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The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2017

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Michael Joseph Schudrich

Chief rabbi of Poland

As Chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich finds himself presiding over what he calls “a tiny community struggling with reasserting its Jewish identity and with the historic responsibility of preserving a glorious past.”

Indeed, Schudrich has found that one of his major tasks is reconnecting what is essentially a community of modern marranos with their own heritage. Due to the Holocaust and then decades of communist rule, many Polish Jews who survived hid their identity from others, including their own children.

“We don’t know how many behaved so, but estimates are that there were tens of thousands,” says Schudrich, so many, in fact, that a hotline was set up for people who think they might be Jewish. Since the fall of communism, he adds, “thousands of Poles have discovered their Jewish roots.”

In July 2017, Schudrich accompanied Ivanka Trump to lay a wreath at a memorial to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia.)

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Natan Sharansky

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