This is Peretz Wolf-Prusan, blogging in from Krakow, where we arrived from Berlin Friday morning. We were met by our guide Kamala and whisked to the Stradomska Center for Dialogue where we learned a great deal about the revival of Polish Jewish life in a very short time with Dr. Karen Underhill, Taube Jewish Heritage Tour consultant and educator. She took us on a walking tour of the Wawa Castle, Old Krakow, including the Main Market Square and the Cloth Hall. I had been on similar tours with Holocaust trips, but never in late June! Krakow is warm, OK, hot, and beautiful.
After lunch and checking into the hotel we resumed our walking tour of Kazimierz, Krakow’s Jewish district, and host to the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival’s programs, with Karen and Kamila and her father, Dariusz. We prepared for our first Shabbat together, and for some in our company, their first Shabbat anywhere.
To our happy surprise we joined a Jewish girls youth group for a lovely Shabbat Dinner with invited Polish students, then off to the Kabbalat Shabbat Service at the Galicia Jewish Museum, led by Rabbi Tanya Segal, Poland’s First Female Rabbi.
We walked back to the hotel via the vibrant Market Square.
Shabbat Morning the college fellows met with Morgan, and I took the high school students for a walk. We embarked on a tour of Podgorze, the former Krakow Ghetto, stopping at the Ghetto memorial. After lunch we were welcomed at Galicia Jewish Museum by Jakub Nowakowski, director, and we were privileged with a special session with Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. We then visited the Schindler Factory Museum. After dinner we were treated to the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival’s “Swinging Ballroom Boat” – a concert and cruise on the Vistula River. Yes, I danced a bit with the students.
At the hotel we prepared ourselves for the day ahead, our pilgrimage to Auschwitz-Birkenau. We are blessed to travel with Helen, who at 91 is full of life and optimism. She is a survivor of Auschwitz and will accompany us there.
Here now are student reflections:
As we got into Krakow in the early morning, I found the heat stifling but nice and comforting. We met our tour guides, Camilla and Darrius, two extremely knowledgeable people.
I thought the architecture in Berlin was amazing, but I fell completely in love with the streets, buildings and lifestyle in Krakow. Sparrows glided above and around buildings, pigeons sat in the square and lived with the people, the intimacy made me feel like it was home.
We walked around for hours, led by Darrius in the sun–into a wonderful memorial of medieval Krakow and into the now “underbelly” of what was once street level. Not to forget the amazing greeting of the 10th Century Castle that stands atop a hill in the corner of this wonderful town.
We ended our first night by going from synagogue to synagogue during the beginning of Shabbat with our wonderful historian, Karen, and observed beautiful temples and sanctuaries along with the gravesite of Moses Ben Israel that now has a large wonderful tree growing out of it.
I am falling in love with this city and its culture and I can’t wait to see more.
Dominic and Molly, College Fellows
Enjoy some photos from our recent adventures!
Posted by Admin on June 30, 2012