(JTA) — The British grandson of a Holocaust survivor said he will move to Israel when he is done fighting Islamists in Syria.
Timothy Paul Jacobs-Woodworth, 37, revealed his plan in an interview published Sunday by the news website Ynet. One of Jacobs-Woodworth’s grandfathers survived the Dachau concentration camp after losing his mother at Auschwitz-Birkenau and his father at Theresienstadt.
But Jacobs-Woodworth’s Jewish grandfather converted to Christianity after the Holocaust and was brought up as a Christian.
Still, Jacobs-Woodworth, a former British soldier, considers himself to be of Jewish origin and has drawn Hebrew-language graffiti reading “Nachman me’Uman” — a slogan of the Breslov Hasidic sect – on many buildings he took over while fighting as a volunteer in Syria with Kurdish soldiers against the Islamic State, or ISIS.
Jacobs-Woodworth tried to immigrate to Israel in 2005 under its Law of Return for Jews and their descendants, but his application was declined because his grandfather is not considered a Jew following his conversion to Christianity. Jacobs-Woodworth eventually was deported for overstaying his visa and banned from reapplying for aliyah for 10 years, Ynet reported. He told Ynet he would reapply this year.
His connection with the Breslov sect began three years ago in London.
“A Jewish Orthodox friend got me to join him on a trip to Uman,” Jacobs-Woodworth told Ynet in reference to the Ukrainian city where the sect’s founder, Rabbi Nachman, is buried. “That was in 2012, and I have visited Uman three times since.”
Jacobs-Woodworth said that before he joined the Kurdish fighters, he used to visit London’s North Western Reform Synagogue.