Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jewish-born Polish priest dreams of Aliyah

Even before discovering his Jewish background, Weksler-Waszkinel had harbored doubts about his true identity. The young man had been aware of the fact that he did not have the pronounced Slavic features of his parents. He had been called "a Jew bastard" by town drunks, so he asked his mother if he was Jewish. She assured him that he was Catholic. When he was 35, long after his ordination, he again inquired about his identity, and Emilia, weeping, told him about his Jewish mother.

Emilia told Weksler-Waszkinel that he had wonderful parents who were murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust and that she had saved his life.

. . .

Weksler-Waszkinel's case for automatic Israeli citizenship seems to be stronger than that of Rufeisen in one respect: He could argue that he never did, in fact, "embrace" another religion. Unlike the Polish-born Carmelite monk, who converted as an adult to Catholicism after finding shelter from the Nazis in a convent, Weksler-Waszkinel never consciously chose to leave Judaism for another faith. He argues that he considers himself a Jew who was raised from infancy as a Catholic without being informed of his true identity.

In terms of complicated identities, this has to take the cake.

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