Menu JTA Search

Between the Lines

A tremendous movement of Jewish conversion to Catholicism is going on in Poland. The center of it is in Warsaw, but cases of conversion are registered also in the provincial cities.

If the Polish government were in the habit of publishing monthly reports on the number of conversions taking place throughout the country, the world would be amazed to learn the extent to which Jews in Poland are leaving the Jewish community and joining the Catholic Church. Discriminated against as Jews, thousands of young men—most of them people with a higher education—seek a solution to their economic problems by accepting Catholicism which opens the doors of certain institutions somewhat wider for them as “non-Aryans.”

It is impossible today in Poland to establish whether one is a Jew or a convert. You sit in company and take it for granted that your companion is a Jew. Later you find out that the man who you have taken for a “good Jew” has long ago renounced his Jewish religion.

PUSH CHILDREN’S APOSTASY

Fathers who, for one or another reason, do not see their way to conversion, are only too happy to see their children converted. The future of their children, they believe, would be better secured if they desert the Jewish religion while still in their teens. Mothers who only several years ago considered mixed marriages the highest misfortune for a Jewish home, are now only too glad to see their sons intermarry with Polish girls, believing that such intermarriage will help them attain economic stability in the Poland of today.

The flood of baptisms would perhaps not cause so much worry to the Jewish communities in Poland, if it weren’t for the fact that the government is now embarking on a policy of making use of these converts to check Jewish communal life. Working under the assumption that “a convert is more pious than a Catholic,” the Polish authorities are now appointing Jewish converts as government commissars for Jewish Community Councils throughout the country, and are thus handing over the supervision of Jewish communal life to elements that have deserted this life.

REGIME NOT MISTAKEN

And the Polish authorities are not mistaken in their assumption. The convert, becoming the representative of the government in the administration of the Jewish Community knows whom he is to serve. He knows that he is a government agent. Despising as he does Jews and Judaism, he tries to serve his master to the best of his ability, and goes out of his way to heap trouble upon the Jewish communal institutions which he is to control.

The Polish authorities are happy. For them the convert is the best “expert” on Jewish affairs and the most beloved “representative” of Jewish interests. Unhappy are, however, the real Jewish leaders—those leaders whose influence on Jewish life is being lowered almost to nothing by the appointed government commissars, deserters from the Jewish religion.

The situation has finally reached a point where the Jewish press in Poland has openly demanded that Polish Jewry be relieved from supervision of Jewish converts, and that the government be informed that no Jewish Community is ready to accept a convert as its emissary.

Whether this demand will lead to any concrete results is difficult to predict. One thing is, however, certain: the number of conversions among Jews in Poland is growing from day to day. It will no doubt continue to grow since the government seems to encourage it.

NEXT STORY