…"I sat in the synagogue during the Kabbalat Shabbat service and I said to myself: Is it real? After all, there are no Jews in Lublin, where did they come from?" said Yakub Weksler, a 63-year-old resident of the city, with excitement. "Until now I would just walk by this building, and now it will be a true home, a home of prayer."
Yakub Weksler is not exactly his name. He grew up with the name Romuald Waskinel, and he discovered his Jewish roots when he was 35 years old, after 12 years as a Catholic priest. His Polish mother revealed to him that during the war, his biological mother had entrusted him to her. She didn't remember his parents' name or where they came from. In 1992, Waskinel discovered he is the son of Yankel and Batya Weksler, and he found two of his uncles in Israel. He adopted his father's first name, Yakub.
His identity is split. Only after consulting with pope John Paul II did he decide to continue serving as a priest. Today he is a philosophy professor at the Lublin Catholic University, and accompanies groups to the Maidanek concentration camp, where his parents were murdered. He defines himself as "a Jew, the son of Jesus the Jew."
Waskinel-Weksler attended Sunday's ceremony at the synagogue wearing priestly robes and a black knitted skullcap. "God puts little people like you and me to the test, but we must remain as faithful to him as we can," he said. He considers himself a loyal Catholic as well as one of the Jews of Lublin, and is concerned that the new synagogue will not have a minyan of 10 worshipers for Shabbat prayers. "I have a prayer book, but the problem is that I don't know how to pray," he replied in response to the question of whether he would join the minyan.…
I have two hypothetical questions:
- Would it have been better for this man to have died as an infant at the hand of the Nazis rather than live his life as a Catholic priest?
- If you answered yes, why did you do so? Do you have sources to support you? If you answered no, why? Do you have sources to support you? Either way, please cite those sources.