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November 1, 2017 2:53 pm

Scarlett Johansson Acknowledges Feeling ‘Deeply Connected’ to Her Jewish Roots After Learning About Family Members Who Died in Warsaw Ghetto


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Scarlett Johansson wiping away tears on “Finding Your Roots.” Photo: Screenshot.

American actress Scarlett Johansson’s learned during Tuesday’s episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” that she had relatives who died in the Warsaw Ghetto.

The show’s host, historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., revealed to Johansson that her maternal great-grandfather Saul left Poland in 1910 to set sail for America, while his brother Moshe decided to stay behind with his wife and 10 children. Saul settled in New York and reportedly sold bananas at a grocery store on Manhattan’s Ludlow street in the Lower East Side. Meanwhile, the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and, by late February 1942, all the Jews in Saul’s hometown were either killed or transported to the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, including Moshe and his family.

“I can’t imagine what you must be feeling,” Johansson, 32, said following the discovery. “Just, hell. It must’ve been hell.”

Gates then presented the “Avengers” star a testimony submitted to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum by one of Moshe’s daughters, revealing that he and members of his family had died in the Warsaw Ghetto. After reading a transcription of the testimony, Johansson teared up and said, “You really couldn’t imagine the horror. It’s just so crazy to imagine that Saul would be on the other side selling bananas on Ludlow street and how different it would be being in America at that time. The fate of one brother verses the other. That makes me feel more deeply connected to that side of myself, that side of my family.”

Tuesday’s episode of “Finding Your Roots” also featured American-Jewish actor Paul Rudd, who learned about the antisemitism his grandfather experienced in England following World War II. Rudd said about his Jewish roots, “I certainly feel as if being Jewish is in the marrow of my bones.”

Watch the full episode below:

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