July 6, 2012
Warsaw is 1000 times different than both Berlin and Krakow on the outside, and that was the first thing I noticed. It has much larger buildings, bigger lights and it is more like a classic city. But as we got more familiar with the synagogues and Jewish community I realized that it was more similar to Krakow than anymore believed it to be. In short, there was once a thriving Jewish population… then the war. Following the war there was racism with communism. And now it has a small Jewish community…similar to Krakow. However, this was put into serious perspective when Kamilla, our guide, shared her story with us. While holding back tears, she explained how she considers herself a Pole, but is looked down on for her Jewish heritage that she is just beginning to explore. She explained how she would like to be left alone to practice, but because the population of Jews in Poland is so tiny she would become a tourist attraction for Polish people. She does not want that. Her honest talk led us to explore in deep and meaningful conversations how to find our own identities. Learning history is much more interesting when it’s happening before your eyes.
Gideon, high school participant