Trip To Poland
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Trip To Poland

May 05, 2000 04:00AM
<HTML>I would like to close the week of Yom HaShoa with a brief description of
my recent trip to Poland. (I understand that the story of the Sefer Torah
appears in this weekends English HaModiah, but I am not sure how many list
subscribers read that newspaper.)

The trip to Poland on which I have accompanied students the last two years
is designed to give participants a sense of Jewish life in pre-war Eastern
Europe, so that they can better comprehend its loss. Although we do visit
death camps, more time is spent in the large cities and small "shtetlach"
in Poland. This year, the historian who led our group (Safira Rapoport of
Yad VaShem) added a day of "discovery" - of visiting "shtetlach" that are
not frequented by these groups.

Upon reaching the town of "Shiniv" we waited for our Polish guide to track
down the person with the key to the Jewish cemetery. While we were
waiting, a local Pole rode up on a bicycle and showed us a photograph of a
Sefer Torah, telling us that a farmer some miles away had this artifact
and would be willing to show it to us. We made our way to the farm (it
was, incidentally, a pig farm) where the farmer brought out the Sefer
Torah (it contained only Bamidbar and Devarim). The story he told was that
the Torah was given to him by a Rabbi as he was being marched into the
forest to be killed, with the promise that if he took care of the Torah,
it would bring him good luck. One of our students had been joined by her
father for the trip, and he spoke Polish. After some lengthy negotiation,
(even the Pope's recent visit to Israel was invoked), the farmer agreed to
sell us the Sefer Torah. The students, who were excited about the idea of
bringing the Sefer Torah "home" quickly raised the sum and the Torah is
now in Israel where we are having a Sofer check to see whether it can be
returned to use.

The next day, of the of other groups was in Bobov, where one of the local
people showed them a wallet that he had received from his father. The
wallet was made out of Klaf from a Sefer Torah.

While these events weren't planned, they certainly gave my students a
sense of how large the Jewish community in Poland was, and how much of
their lives were left behind when they were taken to be killed. The
enormity of the destruction is very difficult to imagine, even when you
are in places where mass destruction took place. This is true for me, and
is certainly true for my 18-year-old students.

In Israel, these trips have become standard fare for both religious and
non-religious high school students. I am wary of sending adolescents on
trips such as these, as I am not convinced that the average high school
student has reached a level of maturity necessary to assimilate such an
experience. Nevertheless, these trips are viewed by the Israeli
educational establishment as being a valuable tool in establishing Jewish


Subject Author Posted

Trip To Poland

Shalom Berger May 05, 2000 04:00AM

Re: Trip To Poland

Judy Cahn May 04, 2000 04:00AM

Re: Trip To Poland

Giti Bendheim May 04, 2000 04:00AM

Rabbi Ferziger

Shalom Berger May 18, 2000 04:00AM

Re: Trip To Poland

Marian Getzler-Kramer May 16, 2000 04:00AM

Re: Trip To Poland

Jay Goldmintz May 29, 2000 04:00AM


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