Tuesday, February 09, 2016


He Says His Mother’s Mother Was Jewish

​    by Reb Gutman Locks   

He Says His Mother's Mother Was Jewish

 Three tourists walked into the Kotel area. They did not look Jewish. Often you can tell if someone is Jewish by the way they look. Not always, but most of the time you can tell. A little while later Shmuli brought one of them over to me and said, "He says that his Mother's Mother was Jewish."

     You cannot go by what tourists say because sometimes visitors like to say things they think will get them accepted, so they might make up stories.

     I asked, "Where're you from?"


     I can't help it, but whenever I hear that someone is from Poland it reminds me what I have heard too many times. "The Poles were worse than the nazis." y'ms.

    "How do you know that your mother's mother was Jewish? Did she tell you?"

    "Yes, she told us all."

    "What about your mother? Did she ever tell you that she was Jewish?"

     "No. By then they had converted to another religion."

     It was common for older European Jews to convert, either in shock from what had happened there, or foolishly thinking that it would protect them if it would (G-d forbid) happen again.

     "Are you sure that your mother's mother told you that she was Jewish?"

      He looked totally at ease when he answered.

     "If your mother's mother was Jewish, your mother was Jewish, and if your mother was Jewish, you are Jewish!"

      He did not know that having a Jewish grandmother could mean that he was also a Jew.

     "Come, I will help you to put on tefillin."

      He had no idea what I was talking about but he cooperated completely. I explained what tefillin are and why we put them on. After reading the Shema in English I had him pray for his loved ones and we took a few pictures for him to take with him. I told him that he is Jewish because his mother was Jewish, and if he wanted his children to be Jews he had to marry a Jewish girl. He understood. He was very happy for the experience.

     His non Jewish friends watched the entire scene from a distance. When they were leaving I told them, "Don't let him go out with your sisters. He has to marry a Jewish girl." They smiled.

     He walked into the Kotel as a Polish goi, and walked out as a Jew who had just put on tefillin. Quick change in who you think you are. Maybe it will all fade from his memory, or maybe he will think differently about his life and what he should be doing about it. He will see.



  1. He looks sephardi – B"H you found him.

  2. Many Polish Jews look Sephardi, because they stem from Sephardim. At the time of the expulsion from Spain in 1492, many Jews went to Poland. At that time, the Poles were not doing well and literally invited Jews to come settle there. Many Polish Jews are dark and look sephardi, because that's from whom they stem. At first, as elsewhere in Europe and most everywhere else, things were good for the Jews and then, the true nature of anti-semites exploded and we know the rest of history.


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