Group 4: Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar (1st Departure)

June 27, 2012

Group 4 spent their first full day in Israel doing a variety of awesome activities. This morning, they did an archeological dig at Tel Maresha at which they got to find some ancient artifcats! Then, they went spelunking, which is the exploration of caves, in ancient tunnels, ate lunch and had an opportunity to go swimming at Beit Guvrin. Upon returning to the base, they got ready for a shiur with Rabbi Paul Freedman, followed by dinner and an exciting evening on Ben Yehuda Street!

June 26, 2012

Group 4 has finally arrived in Israel! Upon arrival they participated in a sunrise Shaharit overlooking the Old City, took a nap, ate lunch, got their cellphones and money, went to the supermarket and embarked on a walking tour of Jerusalem! They saw Gan Ha’atzmaut, the president’s house, the Prime Minister’s house, as well as the protest tents outside of the house, in order to learn about the various political situations going on in Israel. A significant difference this year is that the Gilad Shalit tent was not pitched! Then they had dinner and did an evening of separate boy’s and girl’s programming, followed by an early bed time so that tomorrow they can have a great start to their day!

June 25, 2012

Today group 4 drove from Lodz to Treblinka, toured Treblinka, the extermination camp, and they visited the new museum there as well. While at the camp, they held a memorial service. Then they went on a very short walking tour of Warsaw followed by mincha at the Nozyk synagogue, which is the only surviving pre-war Jewish house of prayer in Warsaw. The group had their final subgroups of Poland followed by dinner and departure to the airport! Israel, here they come!

June 24, 2012

Shabbat was spent davening at the Isaac shul, with amazing spirit and loud voices. Group 4 had Shabbat dinner, lunch and Seudah Shlishit at the Olive Oil restaurant. They also had a Shiur(learning session) with Jules Gutin(their tour guide) and studied Pirkei Avot(Collection of Rabbinic sayings and axioms). Before an outdoor Havdalah and Maariv, they participated in a “get to know your staff” program! On Sunday, after an early start to the morning, they had a 5 hour drive to Lodz. They visited the Umschlagplatz of Lodz, the place of deportation, and learned the story of everyone from the town as well as visited the Lodz Jewish cemetery, which is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. Next, they davened at the Wolfe Reichert shul followed by dinner and subgroups. Tonight the group will do a “get pumped for Israel” program because tomorrow evening they are heading to Israel!

June 22, 2012

The group began the day  with Shaharit at the Oschwentzen (The community in which Auschwitz exists) shul. They then  visited Auschwitz concentration camp, where they began their tour by walking under the infamous sign, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” “Work Will Make You Free.”  They went into several buildings and learned about what went on in the everyday lives of the camp’s victims. Then they went to Birkenau death camp, where they had the opportunity to walk through the famous guard tower. They continued through the barracks, stood at the very place where Dr. Mengele chose who should live and who should 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 memorial ceremony.

Group 4 drove back to Krakow where they will spend their first Shabbat together. They will daven at the Isaac Shul as well as eat several of their meals at the Olive Oil restaurant. During Shabbat they will participate in a limud before completing the remainder of Shabbat with Seudah Shlishit and Havadalah. The group is excited to spend their first Shabbat together, singing, learning, and relaxing. Shabbat Shalom!

June 21, 2012

This morning group 4 visited the synagogue in Kraznik followed by a long bus ride to Krakow. In Krakow, they toured two old synagogues in the old city: the Temple synagogue and Rema. The Rema shul is named for Moshe Isserles who wrote the Mapa, the Ashkenazic gloss to the Shulchan Aruch. Group 4 enjoyed a wonderful dinner in a beautiful restaurant followed by subgroups, to debrief on the day.

June 20, 2012

Group 4 woke up in Lublin, once home to a thriving Jewish community, and started their day Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin. The staff members led a limud and the group studied rabbinic texts, much like students of the Yeshiva did in the early twentieth century. It is in this yeshiva where the great Rabbi Shapira invented the system of learning a page of Talmud a day, Daf Yomi, a system still in use today. The group then headed to Majdanek Concentration Camp. One of the most interesting and shocking parts of the camp is that much of the camp is still intact, giving the group a full image of what it looked like when it was operational. The group spent time reflecting and participating in a memorial ceremony. After eating lunch they headed to the town of Wlodawa and davened mincha at the great synagogue, which unfortunately is not in use today because no Jews live in the town. Then they headed to Sobibor, a Concentration and Death Camp, at which a successful revolt occurred in 1943; close to 600 prisoners escaped. The group participated in a memorial ceremony there as well. In the evening the group ate dinner and met in subgroups; these small groups will meet each night in Poland in order to debrief about the day together. In addition, the group did icebreakers in order to learn even more about one another. They are all looking forward to tomorrow!

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