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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Heritage Trip to Poland 2014/5774: Day 5

I discovered a profound truth about Shabbat in Poland.  Shabbat is not only a day of rest,  but also a day for reflection and contemplation. Many students on the Heritage trip to Poland assembled on Friday night to share their thoughts, feelings and emotions precipitated by their experiences. Everyone had a different meaningful message to share with the group. The group carried these thoughts into an inspiring Shabbat day.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. This is a famous quote said by George Santanaya printed on the entrance to the Auschwitz 1 museum. However, what I learned from an inspiring speech on Shabbat morning was that, “Those who do not change the future are condemned to repeat the past.” There are museums, memorials, exhibits, books and movies that help us not only remember the past but also sometimes even relive it. But somehow we still find a way to repeat the past. The Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinaat hinam and we’re reminded of this four times a year; nevertheless sinaat hinam is still among us everyday. So the truth is that we can’t just remember, we need to be proactive and change what’s in front us. It’s our job to make a difference for the better with the time we have now.  Only then can we avoid repeating the past.
As the day went on we visited a few synagogues that accentuated the heritage of Jewry in Krakow. We had the opportunity to sit in the רמא’s synagogue that is still in use today. One aspect that was really interesting and taught me the fortitude the Jews had, was the painting of Noah’s arc on the synagogue’s ancient walls. It was there to elucidate that there will be disasters, and those around us will attempt to “flush” us out, but it is our duty to go back into our “arcs”, our shuls, not only for safety but also for the strengthening of our emunah and bitahon in Hashem.`
To culminate this day we visited the famous Labor Camp of Krakow, called Plaszow. This was the Camp in where Oskar Schindler succeeded in saving hundreds of Jews. The movie was based on true events, but there’s no comparison to actually walking through it. And to conclude this experience we entered the House of the Nazi Commandant, Amon Goeth, to recite the Habdalah. All of us holding each other, singing והיא שעמדה  touched me and showed everyone of us that as much as they try to wipe us out, we stand together as nation, unified, to live on and continue the legacy of those who perished. ~Morris Bijou