Son of Holocaust Survivor May be Next Czech President

62-year-old Jan Fischer, son of a Holocaust survivor and a Catholic mother, is leading in public opinion polls in the Czech Republic.

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Jan Fischer
Jan Fischer

The son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor may be the next President of the Czech Republic, if recent opinion polls taken in the country are any indication.

62-year-old Jan Fischer, who led the Czech Republic's transitional government after the coalition dissolved in 2009, is in a close race for the presidency against his rival, Milos Zeman.

The first round of the presidential elections in the Czech Republic were held on Friday and Saturday.

Fischer is the son of a Holocaust survivor and a Catholic mother. Because of this, he said, he used to celebrate Christmas but also regularly attended synagogue.

"My father used to take me to the synagogue on Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Purim," said Fischer. "He was a member of the Jewish community until the late 1950s."

Although he is not considered Jewish according to halakha (Jewish law), since his mother is not Jewish, the presidential candidate said that he believes the Holocaust experience is a characteristic that determines the identity of those who see themselves as Jews.

"This is a tragedy that is common to all Jews, so I feel like a part of this community," said Fischer.

The Czech Republic was the only European country that voted against the Palestinian Authority's unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations on November 29.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu later visited the country and thanked its Prime Minister, Petr Necas, for his country's vote.