June 21, 2013
Today the group visited Auschwitz concentration camp, where they began their tour by walking under the infamous sign, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which means “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.
June 20, 2013
This morning Group 4 visited the synagogue in Kraznik followed by a long bus ride to Krakow in which the movie Schindler’s list was screened. In Krakow, they toured the old city and visited two synagogues, namely the Temple Synagogue and Rema. The Rema shul is named after Moshe Isserles who wrote the Mapa, the Ashkenazic gloss to the Shulchan Aruch. Group 4 enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Olive tree restaurant followed by a fun and social evening program to end off the day.
Group 4 woke up in Lublin, once home to a thriving Jewish community, and started their day at Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin. There, they davened Shacharit, 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 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. There, the group spent time reflecting and then held a memorial ceremony. They then drove to a small village called Hrubieszow where Matan Silberstein’s (the Group leader) family is originally from. At the village, the group visited the house at which Matan’s grandfather lived as a child and the place where his great grandparents were murdered. From there the group continued to the old Jewish cemetery and saw the monument which was erected by Matan’s great uncle in memory of the towns Jews, murdered by the Nazis. The monument is made of remnants of old Jewish tombstones. The group then returned to Lublin where they will be spending the night before departing to Krakow tomorrow.
June 18, 2013
Group 4 arrived safe and sound in Warsaw this morning! They met their Israeli staff members and their tour guide, Jules Gutin. Once they loaded the bus they headed for the Genscher Cemetery. Then they boarded the bus and headed to Lublin to settle in for their first night. After a long journey, the energies are running high as they prepare for this exciting summer!