3: Today we arrived in Poland and toured around Warsaw all day. First we went to the old Jewish cemetery where a lot of famous and important Jews both from before and during the Holocaust are buried. We saw the Natziv Me'Vulozin's grave , the Admor from Modzitz's grave and many other graves of important people throughout Jewish history. After the cemetery we went to the only synagogue in Warsaw that survived World War 2. At the synagogue we prayed Mincha and then we danced and sang songs about happiness and love of Hashem. The dancing was so much fun and you could feel the gates of heaven opening it was just so special. after the synagogue we saw a part of the wall that once surrounded the Warsaw Ghetto. we then saw the Umshlagplatz witch is where the Jews were taken to in order to get on the trains to Treblinka and other work and death camps in the area. We then went to see a building which was once within the ghetto and we were explained to how people lived in the ghetto and in what conditions. The next place we went to was the Yiddish theater. Still today this theater which is from before World War 2 puts on shows in Yiddish only even though there are almost no Jews left in Warsaw and especially not a lot that speak Yiddish. After the theater we walked to the Rapaport monument and thats where we had our first memorial ceremony. It was an amazingly spiritual and powerful moment that I'll never forget. After the ceremony we went to the Beit Chabad in Warsaw for dinner. The food was horrible but we survived. After dinner we drove to Lublin where we are spending the night. The hotel is nice and over all today was an amazing day.
4: OLD JEWISH CEMETERY IN WARSAW
6: OLD SYNAGOGUE IN WARSAW
8: A HOUSE FROM THE GHETTO
9: YIDDISH THEATER
10: MEMORIAL CEREMONY AT THE RAPAPAPORT MONUMENT IN WARSAW
13: Today was a very hard yet powerful day. After praying Shacharit and eating breakfast at the hotel we drove to Majdanek. At Majdanek we spent 3 hours touring around the camp. It was by far the hardest thing I've ever seen. We started in the gas chambers where I absolutely just lost it and I couldn't stop crying. It made me feel so sick and disgusted about humanity. This was the first real time that I ever actually doubted the existence of God. I can't understand how God could let something this awful happen to anyone in the world and especially to his chosen people. Afterwards we went and saw the barracks and maintenance buildings. Afterwards we went and saw the crematorium where the bodies that were just removed from the gas chambers were brought to by the Zonder Comando who then put the bodies on metal plates and put them in the ovens to burn. After that we went to the Mountain of Ashes where the ashes and bones of those who were killed in the camp are placed in a large pile. At the mountain we had a memorial ceremony which was very powerful. After Majdanek we drove to Yeshivat Chochmei Lublin and learned the Daf Yomi there in honor of the fact that the founder of the Yeshiva Rav Meir Shapira was also the founder of the Daf Yomi. From there we went to Zamosc where Akiva's family is from and he guided us around the city. We prayed mincha in the old Synagogue in Zamosc and then drove to Lijansk. In Lijansk we were guided by Avraham Carmi the Holocaust survivor who came with us on our trip. Hearing Avraham talk about growing up in Lijansk and showing us where he would hang out with friends and where he was born was very powerful. We then went to the grave of Rebbi Elimelech from Lijansk where we had a chasidic tish and danced around his grave it was amazing. Afterwards we drove to the hotel in z'ashov which was very nice. overall it was an amazing day that I'll never forget.
19: YESHIVAT CHOCHMEI LUBLIN
23: Today was a hard day but over all it was a good day. We started in the old synagogue in Lantsoot which is 250 years old. It was by far the most beautiful synagogue that I've ever seen. The man taking care of the shul is a polish Christian with absolutely no Jewish roots who has taken charge of the synagogue for the past 4 years in order to try and preserve the amazing history found in the shul. The man has taught himself Hebrew and has found a lot of interest in Judaism and he studies from the old sacred texts that he has found around the shul some going back 250 years to when the Chozeh of Lublin who was then known as the Admor from Lantsoot prayed at that shul. After Lantsoot we went to "The Children's Forest" a place where the Nazis took 800 kids one day and put them in a big hole in the ground and shot them to death. we had a memorial ceremony at the mass grave which was very special. It was so powerful that as we got towards the grave the skies started to open up and it started pouring and the second we started to sing Hatikva the rain stopped and the sun came back out. It was so spiritual it was unbelievable. After the ceremony we went to a town named Bjesko which is where Gadiel's family is from. We met with a Holocaust Survivor named Dov Landau who now lives in Tel Aviv but was born in Bjesko and he toured us around the city. He showed Gadiel and his father where there family had lived and worked as well as where some of them are buried. After Bjesko we drove to Krakow. In Krakow we first went to the Rema's Shul which was amazing. We then went to the old Jewish cemetery which is adjacent to the Rema's shul where many great tzaddikim are buried including the Rema, the Bach, the Megale Amukot, the Tosfot Yom Tov, Yossele Kamtsan Kadosh and many more. We then went to dinner at a restaurant in Krakow that was great and then we went to the hotel where I taught the group niggun Krakow and I told them the story behind it and we sang it and danced to it for a while. it was amazing. Overall today was an amazing day.
27: THE CHILDREN'S FOREST
29: REMA'S SYNAGOGUE
30: OLD JEWISH CEMETERY
33: Today was a great day. We met in the morning with kids our age from a polish high school. When we got to their school we split into four mixed groups of Israelis and Poles. We were toured around the school by the polish students. The school was amazing, it's 426 years old!!!! After the tour we sat down as groups and did a few activities. The first thing we did was that we split into Israelis and Poles and each group was given a piece of paper and a marker and were told to draw the stereotypes about the others. It was very interesting to see what their stereotypes about us were and what ours were about them and to realize throughout the morning how misleading these stereotypes are. Afterwards we played some games and basically just hung out and got to know each other. Afterwards all 4 groups met and we had a joint ceremony which was beautiful. After the school we went to Vielitzka where Evyatar's family is from. After that we went to Plashov. Plashov is located within Krakow and was the work camp where the Jews from the Krakow ghetto were sent to as well as the Jews from the surrounding areas. It is considered the worst work camp condition wise. Nothing is left of the camp except a monument where the camp once stood. Afterwards we came back to the hotel to get ready for Shabbes. I'm very excited for Shabbes it should be amazing.
34: HIGH SCHOOL IN CRAKOW
37: ISSAC SHUL
39: Shabbat was amazing. Friday night was one of the best nights that I've ever had. First we went to the Issac Shul where we did a Carleach style Kabbalat Shabbat. It was so beautiful and powerful I can't even begin to explain.The feeling of having Kabbalat Shabbat in a city where there used to be thousands of Jews coming to shul every Shabbes and where they just barely have a minyan for Shabbes these days was very powerful. We danced and sang so strongly that the gates of heaven were open as wide as possible. After Tfilla we went to Miodova 44 where we ate dinner. The food was great as well as the zemirot which were a lot of fun. After dinner we had a half hour walk back to the hotel and the entire time Matan Ben-Gigi , Yagel Shukrun and me danced in the streets and sang the Krakow Niggun. It was so powerful and special I can't even begin to explain. Saturday morning we first went to visit a shul called the temple. it's a beautiful synagogue located in the Kazimez area of Krakow. We then went to the Koopa Shul where we prayed with the local community (12 men). It was very nice to see that even though the community is small that there still is a community in Krakow after the holocaust and the expulsion of polish Jews in 1968. after tfilla we had a kiddush with the community and because we were in Krakow where the Rema is from we did his tradition and did kiddush on a nice cold glass of good polish vodka. From there we went to the Alte Shul and afterwards we went back to the Koopa Shul for Mincha after which we went to Miodova 44 for Shabbes lunch which was very nice. After lunch we toured around the ghetto of Krakow and then we went back to the hotel to hear a righteous gentiles story about how her and her family helped save 17 Jews lives. on the way we stopped by Shindler's factory which was cool to see. The talk with Paulina the righteous gentile was very moving. After that we had seuda shlishit at the hotel and we had a very nice zemirot session. We then prayed Maariv and did Havdalah. After Havdalah we had an Israeli song night which really turned into a bunch of stand up acts by Chanan , Asafi , and Shukrun. It was an amazing day That will stay with me forever.
40: THE TEMPLE
41: THE KOOPA SHUL
42: THE ALTE SHUL
43: SCHINDLERS FACTORY AND PART OF THE GHETTO WALL
44: THE PHARMACCY UNDER THE EAGLE JEWISH MUSEUM
45: PAULINA KISIELEWSKA (RIGHTEOUS GENTILE)
47: Today was a very hard day. We went in the morning to Aushwitz and Birkenau. It was so hard emotionally to be there that I just lost it. In Aushwitz 1 which is basically a museum today in the barracks they have rooms full of shoes, suitcases, glasses, talitot, hair brushes and more items that were all taken from the prisoners of Aushwitz upon there arrival to the camp. After seeing the masses of items I finally was able to start to comprehend the amount of Jews murdered by the Nazis. Afterwards there is the sickest room in the world. The room is filled with hair which was cut off the heads of everyone that went into the gas chambers. The hair was then sent to a company in Germany that made blankets out of the hair. It was so sickening I can't even begin to describe the thought that went through my mind when I saw it. Afterwards we went to see the gallow where the Nazis hung certain Jews in front of the entire camp. We then went to see the gallow that was built in 1947 and was used to hang the known SS commander Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoss who was the head of the Aushwitz 1 concentration camp and was charged for the murder of 2.5 million Jews in Aushwitz. From there we went to see the gas chamber and crematorium located in Aushwitz 1. It was shocking how much larger the gas chamber was then the ones in Midanik. Unlike the gas chambers in Midanik which could hold 200 people at a time the gas chamber in Aushwitz 1 could hold 2000 people inside at a time. After Aushwitz 1 we went to Birkenau which was very hard. Right as we entered the camp we sat down on the train tracks and Avram Carmi told us the story of his time in Birkenau. we then went to see the "bathrooms" which were horrible.
48: Avram told us about how he would have to sit down back to back with his uncle next to around 100 more people and at the blow of a whistle you had to go do your business in the hole you were sitting on. It was so despicable to see the extent of the humiliation that the Nazis made the Jews suffer through. We then went and saw one of the sleeping barracks where 2000 people would sleep every night (10-12 people per bed). Afterwards we went to see the gas chambers and crematoriums that were located in Birkenau which were blown up during the war. We then went and sat down on the grass and had a memorial ceremony in honor of the millions of Jews that were murdered in Aushwitz and Birkenau. We then were given the letters that our parents wrote to us. It was very powerful and comforting to read my letter. afterwards we walked out of the camp on the train tracks holding our flags as high as possible whilst singing GAM KI ELECH. When we finally reached the bus we started singing AM YISRAEL CHAI which was very powerful. We then drove for 3 hours to Piyetrokov where Adir's family is from and he guided us around the city.It was on one hand a beautiful tour but the amount of people that yelled Juden at us kind of ruined part of the experience but overall it was nice. After the tour we drove to Warsaw and ate dinner at the Chabad center and then we went to the Gromada hotel which was very nice where we spent the night. Over all it was a very hard yet rewarding day.
49: AUSHWITZ 1
59: Today we went in the morning to the city Tikochin which is where Hanan's family is from and he told us the story of the city. the first place we visited was the old synagogue which was beautiful. at the synagogue we danced like at every other shul we went to in Poland but here it was extra special. At the same time as we were at the shul there were 3 other Israeli groups there. One was a group of senior Shabak members, another was a group of Toyota employees from Israel and the third was a group from a secular school in the north. It was amazing to see how everybody was so impressed with the spirit we brought into this old synagogue and all though most of the people didn't know the songs we were singing they joined us in singing and dancing in this magnificent synagogue. after the synagogue we walked to the main square in the city were the Jews were gathered on August 25th 1941 and from there they were marched and trucked to the nearby lopuchowo forest where they were thrown into 3 different large pits and were shot to death by SS commander Zichenau-Schroettersburg. Within a day the entire Jewish population of Tikochin which was around 2000 Jews was murdered and buried in these pits in the lopuchowo forest. After wards we went to the Lopuchowo forest and saw the pits where these 2000 Jews are buried. It was a very hard place to be at. It was so hard to try to comprehend how someone could possibly think that this was a good thing that this was for a good cause or that this was by any means a justified act. After we had a beautiful memorial ceremony in honor of the Jews of Tikochin that were murdered at that awful place we went back to the bus and drove around two and a half hours to The concentration camp Treblinka.
60: At Treblinka we first sat down in the parking lot and Avram Carmi told us about the history of the camp. we then went into the camp and sat down on a bunch of rocks that are built in a way to resemble the train tracks that once ran through the camp where Avram Carmi told us his story about when he was at Treblinka. We then went to the monument in the center of the camp grounds where there is a big statue in the middle and then around it there are a lot of rocks with the names of the cities that people were from that were murdered in the camp. At the monument we had a very powerful memorial ceremony and then we went over to a stone which had the name Janusz Korczak written on it. this stone is the only stone in the memorial with a single persons name on it due to the important role that Janusz Korczak had. We were explained in depth about his story and we lit a candle in his honor. Afterwards everyone was given some time to try and find a stone with the name of the city that there family was from on it and to light a candle right near it. We then went to the side and placed special memorial plaques that each of us made. We then went back to the parking lot where we prayed mincha and then got on the bus and drove to the airport in Warsaw. It was an amazingly powerful day filled with very difficult moments but also some of the best moments of the trip.
67: THE WARSAW AIRPORT
68: One of the most powerful parts of this amazing trips was after arriving back in Israel and driving to the kotel coming out as a group all together rapped in Israeli flags into the Kotel Plaza where our parents were waiting for us singing and dancing out of complete unbelievable joy. After dancing and singing for a while and saying hello to our parents we prayed shacharit at the kotel which was very powerful. At the end of davening when we blew the shofar I as well as many of my friends were filled with the largest amount of joy a person couuld ever feel. The feeling of hearing the shofar at the kotel after being in Poland for a week is a feeling that can't be explained. It was an amazing tfila followed by a beautiful breakfast which was organized by the parents and then we had a beautiful ceremony where we had Akiva read his summary of the trip which he read to the group at Treblinka as well. We also had Shukrun tell us about the letter that his grandmother wrote her father who died in Birkenau and we also had Shai Nitzan one of the accompanying parents of the trip talk about the trip from his perspective. It was an amazing way to end the Physical trip as well as an amazing way to begin the mental trip that will last forever.
69: PRAYING AND DANCING AT THE KOTEL