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.