Arts & Culture

Skinhead, Skinhead, Oi! Oi! Oy?

A fascinating article in the New York Times about Pawel: a former Nazi skinhead who has changed his ways and become a hasid.  "Pawel is perhaps the most unlikely example of a Jewish revival under way in Poland in which … Read More

By / February 25, 2010

A fascinating article in the New York Times about Pawel: a former Nazi skinhead who has changed his ways and become a hasid. 

"Pawel is perhaps the most unlikely example of a Jewish revival under way in Poland in which hundreds of Poles, a majority of them raised as Catholics, are either converting to Judaism or discovering Jewish roots submerged for decades in the aftermath of World War II."

This might be the strongest evidence presented by the American media of this "revival" to date, and while it’s an one to focus on, Pawel’s story of transformation is remarkable.

"Pawel joined the army and married a fellow skinhead at age 18. But his sense of self changed irrevocably at the age of 22, when his wife, Paulina, suspecting she had Jewish roots, went to a genealogical institute and discovered Pawel’s maternal grandparents on a register of Warsaw Jews, along with her own grandparents.

When Pawel confronted his parents, he said, they broke down and told him the truth: that his maternal grandmother was Jewish and had survived the war by being hidden in a monastery by a group of nuns. His paternal grandfather, also a Jew, had seven brother and sisters, most of whom had perished in the Holocaust"