Group 6: Eastern Europe/Israel Pilgrimage
July 8, 2013
The group started their morning at the Genscher Cemetery in Warsaw, which has graves of various leading rabbis. Afterwards, they walked along the Heroes Trail around the Warsaw ghetto and learned about those heroes during the ghetto uprising. Next, they headed to the Umschlagplatz, the deportation site of the Jews. The group then went on a tour of Treblinka, the extermination camp, and participated in a memorial ceremony there. Next, the group headed to the old town square for some free time and dinner before heading to the airport! Everyone is really excited to get to Israel!
July 7, 2013
The group spent a wonderful Shabbat in Krakow and made their way to Auschwitz this morning. Upon arrival, they headed to Auschwitz concentration camp and 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 featured in almost every book about the camp. They went inside barracks, stood at the very place where the evil 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. After, they headed to Warsaw, gathered in their subgroups and prepared for Ha’event(just a few days away!) at their hotel.
July 5, 2013
The group woke up in Lublin and headed to Krakow where they will spend their second Shabbat together. 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. In the evening they will be joined with the adult group also organized by USY, and daven together as well as will eat several of their meals at the Olive Tree restaurant in the Jewish old town. During Shabbat the will daven at the Temple and will participate in a limud with Jules Gutin. Saturday night the group will head to the Jewish festival, a festival of culture and music in the center of the old Jewish Quarter. The group is excited to spend their second Shabbat together; singing, learning, and relaxing together. Shabbat Shalom!
July 4, 2013
The group woke up in Lublin, once home to a thriving Jewish community, and started their day at 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 and close to 600 prisoners escaped. The group participated in a memorial ceremony there as well. In the evening the group met in their subgroups and will be relaxing on their last night in Lublin.
July 3, 2013
The group spent the morning in Lodz , where they learned about the Posnatzky family, the richest Jewish family in Lodz before WW2 and then visited the factories owned by this family. They continued on to a visit at the Jewish ghetto and to a famous great ancient synagogue. They then headed to the building which was the headquarters of the SS and ended with a stop at the Umshlagplatz, a point of deportation to the death camps. The group then left Lodz and continued on their drive to Lublin where they will be spending the night.
July 2, 2013
Today the group started their day with a walking tour of the past and present Jewish life in Berlin. They enjoyed a special visit to the Oranienburgerstr Synagogue. In 1866, the New Synagogue was inaugurated with over 3,000 seats, which served the increasing number of liberal Jews. Today, it hosts the Masorti -Conservative Jewish community of Berlin. They then visited the Rosenstrasse Memorial, before leaving Berlin with a stop over in Chelmno and continuing to Lodz.
July 1, 2013
The group started off their day with a visit to the Monument for Homosexuals killed in the holocaust, and then continued to the Reichstag and to the Brandenburg Gate. They visited the Monument for Gypsies which is in memory of the Gypsies killed in World War 2. From there, they drove to the Villa Wannsee , the site of the Wannsee Conference, where senior officials of the Nazi German regime decided about “Final Solution for the Jewish Question , which led to the Holocaust. The next destination was the Pergamon Museum, where they were able to see the Babylon Gate, and then made a final visit to the famous Jewish Museum. Tonight they will have a relaxing evening activity to end off this this very successfu,l yet busy day!