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The trip was an incredible opportunity to learn firsthand about Jewish history and to participate in the revival of Yiddish culture in Poland. I met older Jews from Poland who still live there or visit; young Polish, European, and Polish-Jewish students; local Polish residents involved in preserving and memorializing Jewish culture; and professionals specializing in Polish-Jewish fzyer.
Students included undergraduate and graduate students, professionals and retired persons mainly from Poland, but also from Germany, Lithuania, and the U. Yakov Weitzner PolandDr. The seminar concluded with a festive gathering where fayre were awarded. Guests came from near and far.
Students presented dramatic scenes, sang and danced. We enjoyed a performance by the wonderful singer and pianist, Marina Yakubovich of Israel, and sang and danced late into the night. I visited the local Jewish cemetery, the old marketplace and former Jewish sanatoriums. In the town center as everywhere cem Polandone can buy depictions of Jews, ranging from folksy wooden dolls of klezmorim Jewish musicians to stereotypical gayer and dolls of a Jewish man counting money or holding a coin, or with grossly exaggerated facial features.
I attended a very moving memorial ceremony commemorating the liquidation of the Otwock ghetto.
‘Arum dem fayer’: Campfire Stories
I visited the death camp Treblinka, a very sad and horrifying experience. The memorial and the visit to Treblinka were organized by local residents committed to memorializing Jewish culture in Otwock.
I got to know several of these residents during my visit.
At their invitation, I presented a concert of Yiddish songs from Poland for a packed audience in an Otwock coffeehouse, thanks to the kind efforts of Joanna Gromadzka and her daugher Marianna, Monica Radkiewicz, and Mr. Tolek, a Polish-Jewish seminar participant who lives today in Wroclaw, kindly provided transportation to Zrum in his classic car, which was a real adventure. In the Gensher beys-oylem cemeteryI saw the graves of many famous people including author I.
Festival activities included indoor and outdoor performances of klezmer music, dance, Yiddish song often translated into Polishart and photography exhibitions and a street fair. The festival featured a busy schedule of activities, with North American, Fayee, Polish and European acts, and I enjoyed several excellent performances.
It was the second largest and longest lasting ghetto in Poland under the leadership of Chaim Rumkowski, and served as an industrial center.
After the war, there was a Yiddish school that Golda Tencer attended, and many of her classmates return each year to Warsaw for a reunion. I visited Lublin for one day at the invitation of Dr.
Marta Kubiszyn, a seminar participant and expert on the history of Jews in Lublin. Lublin is a beautiful, historic city with much old architecture and it had one of the oldest Jewish communities in Poland. We walked through the old Jewish neighborhood and she described the former layout of the streets, synagogues, and shared many historical facts about Lublin.
My trip to Krakow included a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau with Yankl, a very knowledgeable guide, who fayfr a personalized tour fyaer me and colleagues Motl Didner and Danielle Dorter. I saw the vastness of the camps, learned much more about their history and about daily life there.
Being there on a cold, rainy day, it was difficult to imagine how people survived years in such an environment, and the physical and psychological toll of it all. Krakow is the site of the annual Jewish music festival and is also a very popular tourist site.
Kazimierz, the former Jewish area, contains many old synagogues and historical buildings that were not destroyed during the war. We visited several synagogues, a cemetery and and the old central area of the city. The most meaningful site for me was the house where Mordkhe Gebirtig the famous Yiddish folk poet and songwriter lived.
Visiting Poland was a fascinating experience for me.
Arum Dem Fayer (Yiddish), a song by Merovitz Project on Spotify
It was both educational and emotional. I was awed by the history here and by the chance to meet Polish Jews, both survivors and younger generations, as well as Poles who are working to memorialize and promote Jewish culture and history. I appreciate very much the help and hospitality that I received from the Fundacja Shalom and from people too numerous to mention. I hope that I will have a chance to return someday. Warszawa Tolek, a Polish-Jewish seminar participant who lives today in Wroclaw, kindly provided transportation to Warsaw in his classic car, which was a real adventure.
Lublin I visited Lublin for one day at the invitation of Dr. Krakow My trip to Krakow included a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau with Yankl, a very knowledgeable guide, who provided a personalized tour for me and colleagues Motl Didner and Danielle Dorter. Looking back… Visiting Poland was a fascinating experience for me.
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