Mariusz spent his entire life as a Catholic. However, 13 years ago, right before his mother passed away, she told him something that turned his whole world upside down and would change his life forever: That he is a Jew. And not only a Jew, but a Kohen (a member of the Jewish priestly class) as well.
Mariusz (who now goes by the name of Moshe) visited Israel for the first time last month and celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall, 13 years after the secret was revealed, which he calls “his rebirth.”
It turns out that both of Mariusz’s parents were born to Jewish families who perished in Auschwitz. After the war, the fear of being Jewish in Poland led his parents to hide their religion and to live as Polish Catholics, which in turn was a lifestyle and identity they passed on to Mariusz, hiding the fact that he was Jewish.
'Appropriate time to have a bar mitzvah' (Photo: Sasson Tiram, courtesy of Shavei Israel)
After learning his true identity, Mariusz was in complete shock and did not know how to digest news of such epic proportions. But slowly over the years he decided he wanted to live a Jewish life. He contacted Shavei Israel’s emissary in Krakow, Rabbi Boaz Pash, and started to become involved with the Jewish community in Krakow.
Regaining lost identityLast month he met Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and told him the story of how he discovered his Jewishness.
“When Mariusz told me his incredible story, I was deeply moved,” Freund said, adding: “I told him that since 13 years have passed since he found out he was a Jew, it is an appropriate time for him to have a bar mitzvah.”
Freund then offered to arrange for the event to take place at the Western Wall, all paid for by the organization. Mariusz was very moved by the gesture and of course agreed.
"Since my mother revealed this incredible secret to me, I feel like I am reborn. By embarking on this journey into my heritage, step by step it all starts to become clear to me,” said Mariusz. “I am not doing this to prove anything to anyone. All I ask is to embrace the truth about my family and regain the lost identity that was hidden from me for decades.”