Notes from the Road
Senior Trip: Poland & Prague
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
The Seniors are currently making their way back to Michigan! It looks like they had a fantastic meaningful trip.
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
The Seniors are enjoying their last day of touring today. They started the day at Petrin Hall, where they experienced great views of the city from the tower and walked through a rose garden. They then made their way to the Prague Castle complex to tour what is thought to be one of the oldest castles in the world, that was once home to Bohemian Kings and is now the home of the Czech President. The saw the changing of the guards at noon, Vladislav Hall, the Royal Garden, and St. Vitus Cathedral. After the castle tour, the group walked through the Golden Lane to the Lesser Town and over the Charles Bridge- the historic bridge crossing the Vltava River, which was once the important connection between Prague Castle and Old Town. The students then were given the opportunity to visit the Franz Kafka Museum or enjoy free time in Wenceslas Square- one of the main city squares/ community in the heart of New Town. They dined at another local Kosher restaurant before having a final night out together.
Monday, June 5, 2023
The Seniors had their first full day in Prague today! They started the day with a tour of Jewish Josefov: the 13th century Jewish Quarter. There, they were able to view the Jewish institutions and synagogues which have been preserved for centuries including: Altenuschul of the Maharal, the Spanish Maizel Synagogye, the Pinkas Synagogue, and the Old Cemetery. After, the group took a tour of Old Town, saw the 600 year old astronomical clock, and enjoyed some free time to shop and explore. They had dinner at a Kosher restaurant where they met Rabbi Hofberg of the Prague Jewish community. After dinner the group went to the Black Light theater production to see the incredible black-light performance Prague is famous for.
Saturday, June 3, 2023
The group observed Shabbat in Krakow. They started the day with Shacharit in a stunning synagogue in Kazimierz before taking a walking tour of the Old Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. On the walking tour they saw the oldest surviving Shuls in Krakow (from the 15th century!): Alteshul, the Ramah Synagogue; and Ramah's graveyard where Rabbi Joseph Isserliss- "The Ramah"- is buried. After lunch, the Seniors continued with a walking tour on the other side of river where they visited the Krakow Ghetto Square, saw Oskar Schindler's factory, and the memorial dedicated to the deported Jews that stands in the square. Next, the students toured the Wawel Royal Castle complex and learned about the Jewish connection to Krakow and ancient legends that surround the city. Havdalah was held in the main square of Kazimierz before the students were able to have free time around the Krakow old town Square.
Sunday, June 4, 2023
Today starts the second part of our Seniors trip when they travel from Poland to Prague! The group's time in Poland came to an end with Shacharit in the newest Krakow Synagogue: the magnificnet liberal Temple. They then drove the 5 hours to Prague with lunch and various small stops along the way!
Friday, June 2, 2023
Today the group started the day with shacharit at the Oswiecim synagogue. They then traveled to Auschwitz 1 concentration camp before taking a bus to Birkenau. There, they saw the remains of the Auschwitz II- Birkenau, the infamous train tracks that simply end, the death's head gateway, and like thousands of other Jews who have before them, were able to state: "Never again, Am Yisrael Chai!" The group then returned to Krakow to prepare for Shabbat. They'll experience Kabbalat Shabbat and prayers in a synagogue in Kazimierz, the old Jewish town.
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Our Seniors started the day with schacharit at the Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin, one of the most important Talmudic academies in pre-war Europe. They then took a tour of Majdanek- a concentration camp where Jews were "processed" into the death camps of Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec, as well as being an extermination facility. After departing Lublin, the students travelled to Lancut, to see where the heart of the Chassic community lived that was eliminated. Before heading to Krakow, they also visted the Zbilitowska Gura, also known as the Children's Forest.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Today the Seniors toured the town of Tykocin- starting with the old Synagogue before heading to the Tykocin market and graveyard. At the graveyard, the students volunteered and cleaned the gravestones of the older parts of the cemetery and returned some of its dignity. They then traveled to the Lopuchowo Forest before visiting the Treblinka death camp and learning of the horrors that occurred there. They ended the day in Lublin, once the second largest Jewish community in Poland.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Our Senior travelers arrived in Poland this morning and sent us a picture from the airport in Warsaw.
They travelled to the Jewish Okopowa Cemetery in Warsaw and learned about Pre-Shoah life in Poland in order to understand the magnitude of what was destroyed. They viewed the remnant of the infamous ghetto wall and walked the Ghetto Heroes Trail from the Rapaport Memorial to the Ummschlagplatz (the deportation station, where most of Warsaw's Jews were deported to Treblinka). They also saw the Mila 18 memorial, the nerve center of the resistance.
"I look at the Warsaw cemetery and Warsaw Ghetto Wall and I don’t know what to think. Rather, it is wrong to say that I don’t know _what_ to think because the truth is that I don’t know _*how*_ to think. I know to get excited when the sun shines and be upset when the rain falls, but I have never seen such events of dehumanization. I hope that this journey in Poland will allow for me to develop _how_ to think about, react to, and understand the past, both in a Jewish and secular perspective." - Ethan Grey