Pawel was a neo-Nazi skinhead until his skinhead girlfriend found out that both she and he had Jewish roots. Now they are Orthodox Jews raising their two children in a Jewish home in Poland.
In Dan Bilefsky’s article “Changing Face in Poland: Skinhead Puts on Skullcap”, Pawel’s reaction reminds me of Lois’ reaction in the Family Guy episode “Family Goy” when she realizes she’s Jewish. Lois suddenly converts from Christianity to Judaism, just as Pawel converts from a neo-Nazi ideology to an Orthodox Jewish identity. In both cases, racial Jewishness is tied to the Jewish religion. Pawel did “convert,” but when he realized he was a Jew it was as if he could be nothing but a Jew in the religious sense. For Jews, racial identity is bound to a religious identity.