Polish Jews who recently discovered their roots arrive in Israel for first time

Correction: The initial version of this news brief stated that "Six  young Polish Jews arrived in Israel..." in the first paragraph. The correct number is 16.

(JNS.org) Sixteen young Polish Jews arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a seminar by Shavei Israel, an organization that strives to connect individuals who have Jewish roots with the state of Israel. Most of the members of the group were raised Catholic, and only recently discovered that they are Jewish.

Inside the Nożyki Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland. There are about 4,000 officially registered Jews in Poland. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

This marked the first visit to Israel for some in the group. In addition to sightseeing, they planned to learn about the laws of Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, and about the weekly Torah portion. They also planned to learn Hebrew.

“There is a growing thirst among young Poles with Jewish roots to learn more about their Jewish religious and cultural heritage. This awakening would have been unthinkable just 25 or 30 years ago, but since the downfall of Communism, an increasing number of Poles have sought to reclaim and affirm their Jewish identity,” Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund said in a statement.

About 4,000 people are officially registered as Jews in Poland, but many more people in the country may be either hiding their Jewish identity or unaware of it.

Posted on August 14, 2013 .