Jews, Christians, and Religious Persecution—and My Own Family
My name is Nicole Victoria Czarnecki, and I am set to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. I am to be counted as having graduated in December of 2013, provided that I am able to pass a class which I had trouble completing over the semester. To make a long story short, I was recovering from surgery which I had in July, and my granddad died on the weekend before the exam for the class with which I had difficulty.
Speaking of my granddad, I had found out the fact that he is the son of a pogrom survivor, about which he was not happy. That fact bothered him, and he hid it from me and his other grandchildren for years. He also changed his story from that we are somehow related to Stefan Czarniecki, to something along the lines of “If we had any Jewish blood, I don’t know about it.” He never outrightly admitted that we are Jewish, although he did have very-Jewish wishes for when he died. His obituary reads, in part:
“Visitation with the family will be held at Singleton's Funeral Home,
1 2nd Ave. SW, Glen Burnie,
on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 from 3:00-5:00PM and 7:00-9:00PM. Services will
be held on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:00AM at Holy Trinity Catholic
Church, 126 Dorsey Rd.,
Glen Burnie, MD
Interment at Glen Haven Cemetery,
In lieu of flowers, the family has
requested donations be made to either of the following organizations: NCEON,
305 5th Avenue SE, Glen Burnie, MD 20161, or H.O.P.E. for All, P.O. Box 1548,
Glen Burnie, MD 21060…” Glen Burnie, MD.
As I remember, having a visitation was expressly against his wishes. In fact, as my Aunt Mary recalled to me, he had expressed that he wanted to either have a funeral without calling hours beforehand or be cremated. He did, however, get to keep his wishes of having tzedekah done in his name and being buried in a non-Catholic cemetery.
The cremation wishes, meanwhile, probably come from the fact that his wife’s—my grandmother’s—cousins were murdered in
and he perhaps felt guilty about that. He also may have had cousins who were
murdered in the Holocaust, as an e-mail from my granduncle Tony reads:
“In mid 1960's the Polish family asked the American family to deed the farm to them since the Americans would not be returning. One hundred twenty nine (129) signatures were required from the American family members to complete the transfer, because under Polish law, all living survivors of Julian were an heir to the property.”
Before the mid 1960s, our side of the family was not talking to the side of the family whom stayed in what eventually became
Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia. In fact, they were quite
angry at Great-Granddad Czarnecki’s parents, Julian John “Felix” and Alexandria
Alice Andrulewicz Czarnecki, for being Anusim during the pogroms. For Alexandria’s family,
however, being Anusi was nothing new. This is because some Andrulevičuses
had become Anusim beforehand, and Alexandria’s
branch was among the last of the Andrulevičuses to become such. In fact, some
Andrulevičuses—the family of whom carried variants of “Andrulevičuses” such as
“Andrulewicz”, “Andralowitz”, and “Andrulevich”—continued to identify as Jewish
even while they remained Catholic.
For example, Jacob L. Androlowicz, who served in World War Two, was counted among wounded Jewish soldiers. His wounded-soldier card reads as follows:
He was buried in a Catholic cemetery when he died in 1974, and his gravestone reads “Jacob Androlowicz”. As for his cousin
Alexandria’s family (Great-Granddad
Czarnecki’s branch), they were among the Andrulevičuses who were not open about
being Jewish, although they did observe some minhag v’nusach. For
example, there was no “Mary” among Alexandria’s
daughters—they were named Regina,
Alexandria Alice, and Cecelia. In fact, the first “Mary” in Alexandria’s line was
my aunt Mary, who was named for her grandmothers—Mary Trudnak Czarnecki (the
daughter of Anusim Mihály “Michael” and Anna Amalia Munková “Anna Monka”
Trudniak) and Marysia “Mary” Elizabeth Rusnak Gaydos (the daughter of Anusim
András Stef “Andrew Stephen” and Juliana Foczková “Julia Fosko” Rusnak).
Given that the Andrulewicz, Czarnecki (originally “Czernecki”), Trudnak (originally “Trudnyak”), Monka (“Munka”), Rusnak (originally “Rusznak”), Fosko (originally “Foczko”), and other families of
grandson and in-law daughter (Joan Adele Czarnecki née Gaydos) were Anusim
Ashkenazim, how they observed some minhag Sefardi surprised me. I
suspected, therefore, that the Andrulewiczes et. al. had Sefardic
heritage and were well aware of what their Sefardic ancestors suffered in Spain, Portugal,
Italy, and Holland. I turned out to be correct, as my
dad’s AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test shows that Dad has 1% Iberian Peninsular
In fact, my great-granddad Anthony Czarnecki was named for Anthony Claret of
when he was baptized. I suspected this—and was able to confirm my suspicion per
Dad’s DNA results—because,
as I found out, Anthony Claret was born on October 24th, the same
date (even though not in the same year) as the birthdate of my great-granddad.
As I mentioned beforehand, Great-Granddad Czarnecki was a pogrom survivor. He was born on October 24, 1904 in Cumań, Wołyn, Rusia (now Tsuman, Volyns’ka Oblast in the
At the time, his mother was en route from or to visiting a cousin named
Vil’gel’m Andrulevich. According to Hebcal.com and given Vil’gel’m lived in
Buzhanka, Zvenigorodka uyezd (now Tsuman in the Ukraine’s Cherkas’ka
Oblast), she was visiting Vil’gel’m to celebrate either HaRosh-HaChodesh
Cheshvan 5665 (since she lived in Lipsk nad Bierbzą, Suwałki Gubernia with
her husband, and she would not have been able to visit on the 1st of
Cheshvan) or the 15th of Cheshvan (since Tanakh reads, “Blow the
horn at the new moon, at the full moon for our feast-day.”).
Since she gave birth to her son on 15th Cheshvan, however, that she
was visiting Vil’gelm to celebrate Rosh Chodesh seems more likely.
After all, the Andrulevičuses were originally Orthodox, and at least one branch—the Andrelewitzes—remained so throughout the 1900s. The Andrulevičuses were Litvakn Yidn who took Tanakh and Talmud seriously. In fact, one cousin—Rochla Andrelewtiz—identified herself as “Hebrew” and her dad as “Gitla Andrelewitz”. They had no aversion to identifying as Jewish or taking identifiably-Yiddish names.
Then came the times of Anti Semitism in the Russian Pale and the Congress of Poland. For
Alexandria’s branch, the
times were the era of the pogroms in and around Lipsk nad Biebrzą. As my
granduncle Tony wrote:
“I don't know who came with the group to
America. It seems that there
were only a few family members and friends. These people mostly settled
in NE PA. Your Great Grandfather had a
few cousins living within 50 miles of Wilkes-Barre…There
were several "friends" in Sugar Notch and the area that would
periodically return to Lisco Poland
to visit family and mail was occasionally received by them from family in Poland.
One of the friends who lived in Sugar Notch would bring pictures of Great
Grandpop's family to share with him. Since he left at a young age, he
didn't recognize anyone but as I recall they all had names of the people in the
pictures on the back.
“The move from
was permanent. There was never any talk of returning. Not even for
“I never seen nor did anyone mention anything special brought from
A friend from Sugar Notch, Mrs. Bertha Wawrzyn, visited Poland every few years to see her
family and would visit the family while there. All she ever brought back
were photos that she took of the Polish Czarnecki's…
“There was very little discussion of the Polish life and family. Usually, when there was, it was a brief mention of the farm that was left behind. There did not seem to be any regrets about leaving for a better life. After all , they settled among Polish, Slavic, Hungarian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian people just like themselves. Similar language, similar customs, similar faces, houses, churches, etc. But life was much better than on the farm. They were quite happy in
America and much better off.
The motherland, Poland,
was far off and just a memory, not to be forgotten but no regrets for leaving
“Periodically a church pastor would run a heritage trip back to
Poland for a group. Very few
of those who immigrated would return. Occasionally someone "in the
family" in America would join a relative for the return trip, Usually
meeting the Polish or Slovak relatives for the first time and occasionally
maintaining a letter writing relationship afterwards. This DID NOT happen
in our family…
“Bertha's photos which came after the trips were the only contact until they asked for the deed to be changed in the mid 1960's.
“There was no special items from
that were kept by the family that I know of. They came with little and
acquired everything they had in America.
Over the years all traces of Poland
disappeared. They were now AMERICANS and wanted to be known as such…..”
The more that I researched and talked to family members, the more that what happened became quite evident: the Andrulewiczes, Czerneckis, and other families (e.g., the families of Great-Granddad’s grandmothers—the Morgiewiczes and the Daniłowiczes) were very unhappy about their family members giving up their Jewish faith at the hands of Czar Nicholas the Second and the Polish and Russian Churches. Therefore, their son Julian and their daughter
Alexandria left for Sugar Notch, Pennsylvania, and blended in there by
pretending to be Polish-Lithuanian Catholics.
This did not mean the end of trouble for Great-Granddad, though. In fact, his wanting to marry a Jewish Catholic—Mary Trudnak by name—extremely upset his mother, who did not believe in anything other than shidduch or marrying fellow Yidn. Marrying who she considered to be a meshumadah—since Great-Grandma, as I remember and as Aunt Mary told me, was a genuine Jewish Catholic—was Great-Granddad’s way of asking for trouble. In fact, as Great-Grandma told Aunt Mary, Great-Granddad’s and Great-Grandma’s doctor warned them to leave Great-Great-Grandma’s house before Great-Grandma could have a mental breakdown.
Great-Great-Grandma died of nephritis on April 6, 1936, shortly before my granddad was born. Nonetheless, the damage had already been done, and Pop-Pop was not born into a stable family or raised in a stable household. In truth, Pop-Pop became just like his grandmother, whose son became just like her. My granduncle Tony even once quoted the following about my great-granddad, my granddad, and my dad: “Like father, like son.”
In sum, the persecution that the Poles and Russians enacted against my paternal granddad’s dad and his family affected my granddad’s family to consider their Jewishness a dark secret, and a secret that—by becoming and being kept a secret—affected much of the dysfunction in our family. As HaShem warned through Moshe, “HaShem is slow to anger, and plenteous in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.” This has certainly been the case in our family, and this has caused me to do what Great-Grandma wanted to do with Aunt Mary at the end of her 93 years—“talk about it”.
I myself will never commit a chillul HaShem by hiding my Jewish heritage and perverting my Jewish heritage into a secret that will destroy my children and grandchildren. While I myself am a Jewish Christian and will never give up Yeshua (since I became a Christian long before I knew that I am Jewish, and I believe that being a Christian is fully compatible with being Jewish), I understand why my granddad was an Anusi up until his dying day. I also know that my dad, if he was honest with himself, would be Reform Jewish (much to the chagrin of his dad’s late paternal grandma).
I can also see the effects of Polish and Russian Anti Semitism that was committed in the name of Yeshua, and know that HaShem would have this to see about the Poles and Russians who claimed to be Christians in order to hurt my family:
“And the L-rd said: Forasmuch as this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment of men learned by rote”.
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