From today's New York Times:
…[H]is sense of self changed irrevocably at the age of 22, when his wife, Paulina, suspecting she had Jewish roots, went to a genealogical institute and discovered Pawel’s maternal grandparents on a register of Warsaw Jews, along with her own grandparents.
When Pawel confronted his parents, he said, they broke down and told him the truth: that his maternal grandmother was Jewish and had survived the war by being hidden in a monastery by a group of nuns. His paternal grandfather, also a Jew, had seven brother and sisters, most of whom had perished in the Holocaust.
“I went to my parents and said, ‘What the hell?’ Imagine, I was a neo-Nazi and heard this news. I couldn’t look in the mirror for weeks. It was a shock and it still is a shock to me,” he said. “My parents were the typical offspring of Jewish survivors of the war, who decided to conceal their Jewish identity to try and protect their family.”
Shaken by the knowledge of his Jewish roots, Pawel said he decided to go see Rabbi Schudrich, who gave him a copy of the Hebrew Bible.
“I spent weeks cloistered like a turtle, questioning everything I had believed. I had a feeling deep inside of me that was so strong, that I had to do it, that I had to become Jewish. When I asked a rabbi, ‘Why do I feel this way?’ he replied, ‘The sleeping souls of your ancestors are calling out to you.”’
Pawel said his transformation was arduous, akin to being reborn. He said he forced himself to reread “Mein Kampf” but couldn’t get to the end because he felt physically repulsed.
At the age of 24, he was circumcised. Two years later, he decided to become an Orthodox Jew. His wife began to wear a sheitel, the wig Orthodox women wear to show modesty.
Today, they have two children, whom they are raising in a Jewish home. Pawel is also studying to become a shochet, a person charged with killing animals according to Jewish dietary laws. “I am good with knives,” he explained.…