Over the past few days we have traveled over 500 miles and through 500 years of history. We are still attempting to catch our breath, but at the same time stopping to smell the roses in each garden along the way. Tomorrow will be our final day exploring Warsaw and then off to Israel. Enjoy the reflections and photos.
July 4, 2012
Yesterday we arrived in Warsaw. The long drive across the countryside was relaxing and yet somewhat eerie knowing the unfortunate history of the visibly beautiful landscape. Going to the Majdanek concentration and death camp was a surprise for me, because it was a place I knew very little about. I thought it to be a great feat that the communist regime established a memorial of the lost so soon after the fact. I could not help but picture myself mixed in, with the giant pile of ash left in the memorial. Facing the ash, I could see and feel the pulse of human life coming from within it. This journey has set an amazing example of the importance of commemoration and remembrance of the lost lives, and the extreme importance of love in everyone’s lives. It is our responsibility to carry on the dreams that were almost extinguished forever. All you need is love.
Eli, college fellow
July 3, 2012
Yesterday we traveled from Krakow to Lublin. Along the way we visited a ton of really interesting sites that explored Jewish heritage in Poland. The first site we explored was Zbylitowska Góra, a monument and memorials to those killed by the Nazis in a massacre of the local Jewish population. It was strange seeing in the middle of beautiful greenery, the gravesite of an atrocious crime. Maayan led a teaching that had us discuss legacy and what it means to us. As many of us come from different cultures… it was interesting to see how each of us have dealt with our individual cultural legacies, and what our common legacy is of being Bay Area teens and young adults. Our next stop was the city of Tarnow, where we toured the local city and we visited the bimah of a synagogue completely destroyed otherwise. Peretz told us a story about the Ba’al Shem Tov.
Back ontthe bus, we continued east to Łancut. There we found a great palace built for a wealthy, well-connected man who was friendly and actually invited the Jewish into his town to build up the city. When the Nazis came he actually helped save the synagogue from being burnt down. We were already in awe at the palace, but when we saw the synagogue… holy cow! It was intricately painted with a beautiful inscription. Peretz’s translation said that the purpose of the synagogue was to have people in “awe” of God. Inside we heard another Hassidic story about a rich man and a beggar. The moral was striking…miracles aren’t easily arranged. After arrival in Lublin, Dominic gave a final teaching of the day. In small groups we shared our greatest belief, fear, and moment. I certainly learned a lot about those in my group and I personally really opened up. It was a great way to end the day.
Eric, high school participant