Polish-French actress Monika Ekiert has been a lead actress in Polish and French TV shows and films for years, as well as the face of top international fashion campaigns.
Raised in Poland, where she said she once had only bread and salt to eat most nights, she emigrated to Paris and then to Los Angeles to build her now dynamic life. Along the way, she made a striking discovery: She’s Jewish.
“When I first came to Israel with my ex-boyfriend … he had to explain to the rabbis, ‘my new girlfriend, she’s Polish, she’s not Jewish,’ and it would be so complicated,” Ekiert recalls in this week’s Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim. But then she met this particular rabbi, a Kabbalist, and he looked at her and said, “Girl, you know that you are Jewish.”
Ekiert was Catholic in a community that was not only anti-Semitic but living in the shadow of its murderous past. Millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis on Polish soil.
“We did not know we were of Jewish origin until four years ago when I went and took a DNA test,” says Ekiert. Finding out she was Jewish awakened in her a desire to connect to her Jewish past, like many members of the younger generation in Poland are starting to do.“They want to create a bridge,” she tells Cohanim. “They say we are not the same, and it’s not our fault, and we cannot change the past, cannot change history, but we want to show you we are not the same people. And a lot of us have Jewish origins we don’t even know about.”
Ekiert made headlines in 2018 when she attended the Cannes Film Festival wearing a dress with a Star of David and a picture of Jerusalem. She says she was attacked for the move but didn’t let it bother her.
— orli sagi ???????? (@SagiOrli) May 26, 2018
She wants the world to know that she loves Israel: “It is very spiritual for me,” she tells Cohanim. “I just fell in love [with Israel] and decided that when I will be old, I want to spend my last days over there.”
About Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim:
“Global Perspectives” is Jewish News Syndicate’s newest production. Join former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State Ellie Cohanim, as she hosts some of the most important geopolitical conversations taking place in the Jewish world today. Cohanim, a sought-after speaker in her own right, interviews heads of state, policymakers, thought leaders and activists, in frank and open discussions.
It also airs on the Jewish Broadcasting Service (JBS).