If former Polish president (1990-1995) Lech Walesa, who wrote on his April 26, 2016 Facebook page that he regrets he is not Jewish, and that there are no Jewish members of his family and said: “I would like to be a part of the Chosen People but I am not,” would really like to be a part of the Chosen People he can become Jewish; it is never too late.
The Polish Jewish community that Lech Walesa would join now, is very different from the Polish Jewish community that existed before WW2.
Jewishness in Poland now is unique. Elsewhere it is based on family and community. Family means Jewish parents and grandparents. Community means a local neighborhood and/or an organized community like a synagogue, Jewish center, a profession niche (Freudian therapy or nuclear physics in the 1930’s-40’s) or a political party (Bund, Zionist, ADL)
Very few Polish Jews now have two Jewish parents; none have lived, or now live, in a Jewish neighborhood; and only a tiny minority felt Jewish as children. Polish born Jews today have a rediscovered Jewish self identity that cannot be explained in the usual way that applies to diaspora Jewish communities.
The only somewhat similar groups to Polish Jews, live in Mexico, Italy, Uganda, Peru, Chicago and Harlem; where a local leader influenced dozens of neighbors to become Jewish and established a Jewish congregation. (bechollashon.org)
These groups are mostly composed of 50-200 people who knew each other prior to becoming Jewish. or who have later married into the group. They are held together by their shared faith in Judaism and their own leader.
Jewishness in Poland is now unique. If the revival of the Jewish community in Poland is to last more than one generation, it will depend on a major growth in numbers and the establishment of regional summer camps for children, and holiday and weekend retreats for adults and families.
It will depend on every Polish Jew who belongs to one of the four Progressive Jewish Congregations in Warsaw, or one of the half dozen Progressive Jewish Congregations (Beit Polska) in other cities in Poland, warmly welcoming into the Jewish community everyone who is interested in learning about Jewish life, culture, music and religion.
Polish Judaism in the 21st century must encourage all non-Jews who are interested to join with us in reviving Jewish life in Poland.
Non-Jews who become Jewish do not convert to Judaism because they think they have found the only true religion; or that they will go to heaven faster. People who become Jewish convert because of love.
For some it is love for Jewish concepts of God, or love for the truths they have found for themselves in Judaism; intellectual ideals and a rational certainty.
For most non-Jews who become Jewish, the love is more personal. Sometimes it is love for the Jewish People and its culture, history, music or its love for justice and mercy.
Sometimes people become Jewish as a result of loving a special Jew, and desiring to live in a Jewish family and community.
And now in 21st century Poland most often, underneath the love of Judaism, there is a hidden, slowly self revealing Jewish identity of a soul that desires to return home; to the people where that soul belongs.
The Biblical book of Ruth records the vow that Ruth, the great grandmother of King David, made to Naomi, her mother-in-law, as follows: “Where ever you go, I will go. Where ever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where ever you die, there will I die (even Treblinka or Auschwitz); and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17)
Everyone who becomes Jewish repeats this vow. In Poland, almost every person that repeats this pledge already has a Jewish soul (gilgul) inherited from one of their Jewish ancestors who married into a Polish Catholic family in the 18th or 19th century; and now find that their Jewish soul at last is coming home to rejoin the rest of the Jewish people.
If Lech Walesa chooses to join the Chosen People; we all should welcome the return of his Jewish soul.