From skinhead to skullcap

Anshel Pfeffer has a story in Ha’aretz about Pinchads Zlotosvsky, 32, a Polish skinhead who became a fervently Orthodox Jew after learning of his Jewish roots.

The transition in Zlotosvsky’s life occurred after his mother told him she comes from a Jewish family. Her parents, she said, sent her to a monastery when she was a small child so that she would survive the Holocaust.

All her relatives were murdered, as far as Pinchas Zlotosvsky knows.

“I realized I was Jewish according to Judaism. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror for a whole week after I found out,” he recalls. After he recovered from the shock, he spent the past few years rediscovering his Jewish roots. He has also become very active with the Jewish community.

Ha’aretz caught up with Zlotosvsky at an annual conference for hidden Jews in Lodz. The newspaper reports that official figures put the number of Jews living in Poland at 4,000 – but the number of people who are Jewish according to Halacha.

The discrepancy stems from the fact that thousands of Jews who survived the war preferred not to reveal their Jewish identity for fear of anti-Semitic persecution by the local population. … Another significant portion of the hidden Jewish population consists of people like Pinchas Zlotosvsky’s mother, whose parents sent them to monasteries to be raised as Christians. Despite efforts by international Jewish organizations to locate these people, not all have been found, and many are assumed to have remained Christian.

NEXT STORY