Gwyneth Paltrow funds historical marker at her Jewish ancestors’ cemetery in Poland

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(JTA) — Actress and lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow funded the erection of a sign offering information on Jews in her ancestors’ hometown in Poland.

The informational signboard is to be unveiled next week at the Jewish cemetery of Nowogród in northeastern Poland.

The sign “recounts the history of the Jewish community dating back to the 15th century as well as the creation of the cemetery in the late 18th century, and the destruction of the local Jewish community and its cemetery” in and after the Holocaust, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, which is leading the project, wrote in a statement.

The family of Paltrow’s father, director and producer Bruce Paltrow, came from Nowogród, according to research done in 2011 for the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?”

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Her great-great-grandfather Simcha or Simon Paltrovich had immigrated from Eastern Europe to the United States, she said. During the show, in which celebrities explore their family histories, she discovered that Simcha’s father, Hirsch, was also a rabbi in Nowogród.

Hirsch Palterovich, who was murdered in the Holocaust, was remembered by survivors from Nowogród as a holy and courageous man who was an expert in kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. He also singlehandedly put out a fire that threatened to consume the town’s entire Jewish neighborhood, Paltrow also discovered through the show.

”This is kind of blowing my mind, because I study kabbalah. I can just feel how his spirituality is coming off the page,” she said in 2011 about her ancestor.

Paltrow, who won an Oscar for best actress in 1999 for “Shakespeare in Love”  and runs the lifestyle brand Goop, was particularly attached to her father, who died in 2002, she said.

“My dad was the love of my life until he died. My father really instilled in me the importance of unconditional love and support, and to treat your family with love and respect because they’re your family,” she said on “Who Do You Think You Are.” “And you know, those are the ties that bind.”


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