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Polish nobleman and convert to Judaism. In the early 18th century, European Jewry was degraded and oppressed. Nevertheless, Potocki was so deeply impressed by the Jewish faith that he embraced Judaism. Potocki went to Paris to complete his education, and there, the sight of an aged Jewish scholar studying the Bible aroused his interest in Judaism. He persuaded the old man to teach him the Bible and Hebrew. Potocki became a convert to the Jewish faith in Amsterdam, the only country in Europe where conversion was permitted. Later, he returned to his native Poland and lived with Jews in the ghetto of Vilna. When his identity was discovered, the Poles arrested him. Despite entreaties by his mother and his friends, he refused to return to his former faith. Instead, Potocki chose to accept a martyr’s death and was burned at the stake in 1749. The memory of this ger zedek, or righteous convert, was long revered by Eastern European Jews.

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