Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


From neo-Nazi to haredi Jew

posted by Rod Dreher

Here’s an astonishing story of a miracle of repentance:

WARSAW — When Pawel looks into the mirror, he can still sometimes see a neo-Nazi skinhead staring back, the man he was before he covered his shaved head with a skullcap, traded his fascist ideology for the Torah and renounced violence and hatred in favor of God.
“I still struggle every day to discard my past ideas,” said Pawel, a 33-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jew and former truck driver, noting with little irony that he had to stop hating Jews in order to become one. “When I look at an old picture of myself as a skinhead, I feel ashamed. Every day I try and do teshuvah,” he said, using the Hebrew word for repentance. “Every minute of every day. There is a lot to make up for.”
Pawel, who also uses his Hebrew name Pinchas, asked that his last name not be used for fear that his old neo-Nazi friends could harm him or his family.

He goes on to say that he and his gang used to beat up Jews, Arabs and homeless people, and sing songs to Satan. And now look. He was baptized Catholic, and while as a Christian I would have rather he returned to his Christian roots, I still rejoice that he worships the one true God as a pious Jew (his conversion was sparked by learning that his maternal grandmother was a Jew who survived the war thanks to Catholic nuns who hid her). How is sort of thing possible in Poland? According to Poland’s chief rabbi:

… the attitude of Pope John Paul II, a Pole, who called Jews “our elder brothers,” had finally entered the public consciousness.

God bless Karol Wojtyla, a righteous Gentile.



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Hector

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:19 am


Praise be to God.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”. Romans 12:21.



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Hector

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:21 am


Re: Today, though, Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, said he considered Poland the most pro-Israel country in the European Union.
Wow, this is incredibly inspiring.
Would anyone ever have believed this would be possible, in, say, 1930?



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Grumpy Old Man

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Seems to me this guy went from one way of life to another, albeit one less violent (due to its minority status) for purely tribal reasons.
Do you pray, Rod, for the conversion of the Jews, or do you love them in a purely carnal way, such that you would deprive them of the repentance that Jesus, Peter and Paul preached?



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JayR

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm


And now look. He was baptized Catholic, and while as a Christian I would have rather he returned to his Christian roots
Whether or not he was baptized (under some duress, according to the article) Catholic, he is matrilinealy Jewish. That he was Catholic at all was due to an accident of the Holocaust and subsequent rabid Polish antisemtitism. Is this really something to be celebrated?
This sort of thing is actually a source of some friction between Christians and Jews, at least from the Jewish side. (Most Christians don’t seem to understand what all the frustration is about.) That Christians celebrate the (essentially forced) conversions of Jews to escape the effects of genocide and antisemitism is annoying (to put it mildly). The worst, from my point of view are the Jewish children who were protected by Catholic families during the war, who then baptized them Catholic and refused to return them to their surviving Jewish relatives, but your mileage may vary.



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Jesse

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm


Just another Zealot.



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JayR

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm


Also, Rod, what is this reference to John Paul II as a “Righteous Gentile?” Most Jews respect the decency and achievements of John Paul II, but he is not regarded by Yad Vashem (although I understand he was considered for such an honor) as one of the Righteous among the Nations.



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Judith

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm


I agree with JayR. The man is Jewish. Those are his roots. Prefering that he be Christian represents the single greatest weakness of Christian practice; evangelism, and especially, evangelism despite all evidence.
Grumpy Old Man: Your post scores points for brevity, at the expense of clarity.



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Your Name

posted February 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm


“the single greatest weakness of Christian practice; evangelism”
On the contrary, most Christians consider evangelism a top biblical mandate. Sharing a belief with others that you believe could save their lives is a weakness? I find this to be one of their greatest strengths and virtues.
There are plenty of reasons to knock Chritians, but evangelism is not one.



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Eliyahu Schabse

posted February 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm


Welcome Pinchas my father was born in Lubazcow



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Judith

posted February 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm


Your name:
“…most Christians consider evangelism a top biblical mandate. Sharing a belief with others that you believe could save their lives is…one of their greatest strengths and virtues”
I understand. That is why, when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door, I invite them in and listen.



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Your Name

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:05 pm


I’ve noticed that some of the Roman Catholic parishes around here host Seders during Passover. I’m not sure that they see the irony in embracing another religious group’s traditions while disdaining their own traditions. This strikes me as being the same kind of SWPL thing.
I don’t find this as “touching” as some do. First, it’s always a tragedy when someone leaves the Church. Second, why Haredi Judaism? Sounds to me like this is someone who likes the extremes. I’ll wager that he ran into one of those Lubavitcher missionaries and got convinced that Polish Jewish traditions from the 17th century represented “true” Judaism.



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Jon in the Nati

posted March 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm


“Just another Zealot.”
“I don’t find this as “touching” as some do. [...] Second, why Haredi Judaism? Sounds to me like this is someone who likes the extremes.”
You guys are right. I, for one, would much rather this guy were still “beat[ing] up Jews, Arabs and homeless people, and sing[ing] songs to Satan.” The last thing we need is more people renouncing violence and hatred in favor of submission to God.



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Snowday

posted March 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm


This skinhead Pole thing is certainly embarrassing, but at least he has changed his beliefs. I am a Polish American married to a Jew. Can we set a better example Poland?!



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Roland de Chanson

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Rod: … while as a Christian I would have rather he returned to his Christian roots, I still rejoice that he worships the one true God as a pious Jew (his conversion was sparked by learning that his maternal grandmother was a Jew who survived the war thanks to Catholic nuns who hid her).
While Israel Eugenio Zolli and Aaron Jean-Marie Lustiger would share, as do I, your predilection, it nevertheless must be acknowledged the fault of the post-V2 Church that this fellow, born a Catholic, does not confess Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His education has been derelict in the extreme.
It is to the eternal credit of the Jews that they cherish education and do not forget Tradition. Let the Catholics learn a lesson.



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