Friday, June 24th
The group traveled to the town of Auschwitzem for Shacharit at the Jewish Center. They visited at Auschwitz concentration camp, where they began the tour by walking under the famous sign, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” “Work Will Make You Free.” They entered several buildings and learned about what went on in the everyday life of the camp’s victims. Then they drove to Birkenau death camp, where they began by walking through the famous guard tower featured in almost every book on the camp. They went inside barracks, stood at the very place where Joseph Mengele chose who would live and who would die, and saw the former crematoria that were destroyed at the end of the war. At the end of the tour the group gathered for a rainy memorial ceremony. They headed back to Krakow, were they will spend Shabbat. The group is excited to spend its first Shabbat together, singing, learning Pikei Avot and relaxing. Shabbat Shalom!
Thursday, June 23rd
Today Bus D made their way from Syracuse to Cleveland. On the way the group stopped at beautiful Niagara Falls. There, they went on a board ride called Maid of the Mist, which took them towards the thundering waterfall. Afterwards, the group boarded the bus for the ride to Cleveland. Once in Cleveland, Bus D stopped by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Inside they saw relics from Rock and Roll’s greats including Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. After rocking out to some classic tunes, the group went to a kosher Subway restaurant for dinner. In the evening they went out to play a game of whirlyball. Whirlyball, a Wheels favorite, is a game that combines bumper cars, lacrosse, and basketball. The game was an awesome end to a great day.
Thursday, June 23rd
Today, the group drove from Lublin to Krakow. Their first stop was the town Tarnow. Before World War II, about 25,000 Jews lived in Tarnow. By the end of the war, the overwhelming majority of Tarnow Jews had been murdered by the Germans. Although some 700 Jews returned to the city after liberation, virtually all of them soon left to escape local anti-Semitism. The group visited the location of the old Synagogue and stopped at a forest just outside of Tarnow, where they focused on the loss of children in the Holocaust. They then continued to Krakow and visited Plashow – Krakow Forced Labour Camp. The group ate dinner at the Izaak Synagogue and then walked to their hotel in Krakow where they will be staying until Sunday. At the hotel they met in their sub-groups and were introduced to their summer “vaadot” (working and planning groups).
Wednesday, June 22nd
This morning Bus D returned to their host synagogue for shacharit and breakfast. The group then hit the road and traveled through upstate NY. Their first stop was at Secret Caverns where they explored the natural underground caves. Next, the wheelniks went to college as they visited Cornell University in Ithaca. At Cornell, the wheelniks and staff talked about opportunities for Jewish experiences when they eventually get to campus. Then it was back on the bus for the ride to Syracuse. When they arrived they visited the local JCC which hosted them to a BBQ dinner and a pool party. The group finished the day by meeting up with their host families in Syracuse.
Wednesday, June 22nd
The group left Warsaw this morning and drove to Lublin, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community. The group visited Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin, which was recently renovated. They learned in havruta groups, where they studied rabbinic texts, much like students of the yeshiva did at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was in this yeshiva where Rabbi Shapira invented the system of learning a page of Talmud a day, Daf Yomi, a system still used today. After lunch they headed to Majdanek Concentration Camp, just outside the city of Lublin. One of the most interesting and shocking parts of the camp is that much of it is still intact, thereby giving the group a full image of what it looked like when it was operational. The group was extremely moved by the barrack full of shoes, and walked through quietly trying to imagine the people who filled them. The group spent some time reflecting and led a memorial service. The group headed back to the hotel for dinner, subgroups and a quiet evening.
Tuesday, June 21st
On Tuesday, Bus D set off on their six and a half week journey. In the morning the group woke up early and got together for their first Shacharit of the summer. The wheelniks then boarded the bus for the ride to Boston. On the way, the group talked about the Jewish value of Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming in guests, which they would be the beneficiaries of later in the evening. When they arrived in Boston the group took a tour of historic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox! Later, the group had free time to explore the market area of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. In the evening Bud D headed to a local synagogue where they had a delicious dinner and had a fun evening program about their goals for the summer. Finally, the group ended this busy day by meeting up with families from the synagogue who are hosting them for the evening.
Tuesday, June 21st
After breakfast and Shacharit the group packed their lunch and headed to Tikochin, located four hours north of Warsaw and not far from Bialystok. In Tikochin, the group saw the town’s beautiful synagogue. Before the Holocaust, Tikochin was a thriving Jewish Shtetl. They gathered in the old synagogue for an energetic dancing and learned a new nigun (melody). After lunch they traveled to the Lupochova forest just outside of town where the Nazis murdered the entire Jewish population of Tikochin. At the site they held a memorial ceremony. This afternoon the group drove to Treblinka death camp. Not much remains of the camp but there is a massive memorial which consists of thousands of stones with the names of towns whose populations were destroyed. They davened Mincha in Treblinka and then headed back to Warsaw. After dinner in Warsaw, Group 4 met in their subgroups.