Jewish Actor Jesse Eisenberg Is Reclaiming His Family’s Polish Citizenship

"I would love to create better relationships between Jews and Polish people," "The Social Network" star said in a recent interview.

In recent years, it seems there’s been increasingly more Jews seeking to reclaim citizenship from places where their ancestors were either expelled from or fled. In 2022, nearly 262,000 people applied for naturalization under Portugal’s 2015 right of return law for Sephardic Jews. Germany recently updated their immigration laws in 2020 and 2021, creating an easier path for victims of the Nazis to reclaim their citizenship to the same effect. Haaretz reported a surge of applications from Israelis with German heritage in 2023.

Now, Jewish actor Jesse Eisenberg is doing the same.

In a recent interview with Polish publication “Głos Wielkopolski,the “Social Network” actor revealed that he is in the final stages of receiving Polish citizenship. Eisenberg’s family is from Krasnystaw, and his wife’s family is from Łódź.

“Growing up, I’ve heard stories of the Polish relationship with my Jewish family and all the stories were great: we were best friends with the Poles. My family lived in Krasnystaw up until the war, one person survived the war and moved to Szczecin,” Eisenberg, who began the application process nine months ago, explained. “Unfortunately, she passed away from COVID, so it was quite recent.”

Eisenberg’s reclaiming of his Jewish family’s Polish citizenship comes just months ahead of the release of his new film “A Real Pain.” The movie, which is written and directed by and starring Eisenberg, highlights the drama and hilarity of two cousins touring Poland to honor their late Holocaust survivor grandmother. Starring Kieran Culkin opposite Eisenberg, the film was shot, per Variety, “in all the places where [Eisenberg’s] family is from.” In addition to Krasnystaw, this included Warsaw, Lublin, Kraśnik and Radom.

“While I was working here, I met some people who worked in positions related to the government. I said to them: ‘I would love to create better relationships between Jews and Polish people,” Eisenberg said, perhaps referencing the issue of antisemitism in Poland. “To me, it’s so unfortunate they are not great. I would love to do that. My family is from here, my wife’s family is from here. Is there any way we could apply for Polish citizenship’?”

When the Polish interviewer asked what Eisenberg loved the most about the country, he again referenced the fact that his family lived there for “generations, centuries.”

“It makes me feel connected to something. In America, everyone is very new, apart from the people who were there first, the Indigenous Americans,” Eisenberg explained.

He added, “Poland made me feel a real connection to something historically bigger than myself.”

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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