Week Review- Poland
Shavua Tov! We hope you have been enjoying our daily blog posts, and as we officially begin Biluim Israel 2018, this is your first official weekly recap and photo album blog post (the Poland photos should now be on our blog as well). Now that the entire group of chanichim have arrived and enjoyed a Shabbat together, we can’t wait to embark on our Biluim Israel 2018 adventure. Stay tuned for weekly recaps and postings each week along the way.
Our first week in Poland was truly a very meaningful one. Over the course of the week, we explored the vibrant Jewish communities of the past in cities and towns such as Krakow, Warsaw, Lodz, and Tycocin and what Jewish life looked, sounded, and felt like before the war. We learned about how for some, Chasidism and Torah study played a vital role in Jewish Life, while others subscribed to different Jewish philosophies and movements such as Orthodoxy, Zionism, and Socialism. We walked along the Path of Heroism in Warsaw and were inspired by the story of Mordechai Analevitch and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. We also visited concentration and death camps and places of tragedy, such as Auschwitz, Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, and the Lopochova Forest.
Of course, we are the most grateful for being able to share in the simcha that was Risa Epstein’s Nephew, Nathan’s Bar Mitzvah, where we heard Phil Epstein’s powerful testimonial of survival for 18 months in the forest, and brought Jewish prayer and spirit back to a synagogue which has been a symbol of loss for so many years.
But what was personally most impactful for the staff, Risa, and myself, were the processing discussion sessions that took place at different points throughout the week, during which I got the opportunity to hear the deep and insightful ideas that the chanichim had. During these sessions, led by our staff and educators, the chanichim shared their feelings and emotions, and were further challenged to describe how they were going to bring this knowledge home with them and back into their Jewish communities and lives. For many, the week allowed them to view the Holocaust, their Jewish identity, as well as what it means to spend the summer in Israel as CYJ Campers in a different way. It was a very special week, and of course, I hope that the conversations continue between you and your children, either by phone or when they return after the summer.
We’ve also pasted a letter from that was sent out to all of our CYJ summer camps that was read on Friday evening.
So enjoy the Poland photos, and stay tuned for updates on Instagram, Facebook, and the blog this week to tide you over until next week’s recap and album upload!
Ryan Peters, Director
Shabbat Shalom Canadian Young Judaea! As we are writing you this shabbat-o-gram, we are staying just outside of Jerusalem, preparing for our first shabbat together. The feeling is hard to describe. All of our time at camp, whether it was Kinneret, Hatikvah, Kadimah, Shalom, Solelim or Biliuim Canada, does not compare to this experience. The summer ahead will be one that we will never forget.
This past week, 74 participants, travelled around Poland, visiting various cities like Warsaw, Krakow, and Lodz, to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. It was a hard week, as we saw the life that was, and the life that was lost. One of the most powerful moments for us was the Bar Mitzvah of Risa Epstein’s nephew. It took place in the same synagogue in Lodz, where his grandfather, Phil Epstein, a Holocaust survivor, had his after the war. It was so powerful to see Phil standing there on the Bima with his grandson, crying tears of joy.
Now that we are all together in Israel, it changes everything. We have the next 4 and a half weeks to discover the homeland of the Jewish people, laugh, cry, explore, and learn. We are certain that this summer will make all of our years at camp, even more special. We are looking forward to our week in the north, and hope that your first week at camp was as epic as we remember them being.
Chazak Ve’Ematz, with strength and courage,
Biluim Israel, 2018.