‘Hidden Jews’ get their first Polish-language guide to Hannukah

By Haaretz Service
8 December 2009

The Shavei Israel organization released on Monday the first Polish-language guide to the holiday of Hannukah geared toward Poles who have only recently discovered their Jewish roots.

Lights for Polish Jewry will be circulated for free during the week of the Jewish holiday throughout Poland.

According to Michael Freund, chairman and founder of the outreach organization,the reason for the sudden publication of the guide is due to the fact that many Poles have of late leared that they are “hidden Jews” and wish to reconnect with the traditions they know little about. “In recent years, an increasing number of Poles have rediscovered their Jewish ancestry, seeking to reclaim the precious heritage that was so brutally taken from them and their forebears,” he said.

“It is our hope that this book will, in some small way, enable a new generation of Polish Jews to celebrate Chanukah with joy, as well as gain a better understanding of our eternal faith, its principles and beliefs,” Freund added.

Although there are only 4,000 Jews officially registered in Poland, the organization estimates that there are tens of thousands of others who have concealed their true identity, or are simply unaware of it.

Many people have lost their connection to the Jewish tradition in Europe, and often did even know of their Jewish ancestry due to years of anti-Semitism, communist regimes which denied the Jews from practicing their Judaism. Many older Polish Jews who were brought up by Catholic families during the Holocaust also lost all connection to the religion, and only now have learned the truth of their ancestry.

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