Poland Day Two

Today marked the second day of our trip, and we mainly focused on the topic of the Warsaw Ghetto. We woke up somewhat early in the morning to attend a shabbat service in a nearby synagogue, which was both an enjoyable and educational experience. Despite it being a living Jewish symbol, it was deeply saddening to see such a glorious building be utilized by only a small fraction of the people it once held. It was tangible evidence of the former glory of Polish Jewish life, as well as the impact of the many horrific events that conspired here.

Not long after, the group began an extensive tour of the once Warsaw Ghetto area. We learned about the history of the Ghetto, spanning for its initial conception and purpose to its liquidation on January 18, 1943. Once interesting concept I hadn't considered was the physcology behind targeted hatred, used prominently by Hitler to gain a devoted following. This all tied into the wall, identification symbols and unsettling propaganda we were shown.

We then began walking the streets, seeing important landmarks such as certain Ghetto borders, (easily identifiable by their bricked off windows even to this day) as well as remaining buildings. We began discussing the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, realizing that the responsible youth leaders were not to different from ourselves in regards to there previous experience and ideologies. This idea culminated on the burial of 'The Last Stand' where over 100 fighters were gassed inside their own bunker.

Both groups then met together as we listened to my own grandfather recount his experience in the Warsaw Ghetto as a child during the war. He told his story: from his peaceful life beforehand in Sochaczew, to his relocation into the Warsaw Ghetto and finally his escape to Paris before Toronto. He was able to describe very detailed information about his life, painting a picture that was not only emotional but impacting for all of us. It was an absolute honour to have my grandfather speak, and I look forward to spending more time with him on this trip.

For the end of our long day, we enjoyed a lighter segment of free time in Old Warsaw. Everyone went out for a nice dinner and experienced Polish culture and food. A group Havdallah was then conducted outside the Palace Of Culture and Science, and we concluded our day.

I look forward for what else is in store,

Chazak Ve'Ematz BI 2019

Robbie Tylman

Gabriel Helfant