This past May, 48 seniors took a journey of a lifetime. Over 9 days in Poland and Israel, students reconnected with their past, rejoiced in the present and generated new perspectives for the future. The experience began in Warsaw which offered a glimpse into the tapestry of Jewish life in pre-war Poland. Throughout the trip the richness of Jewish heritage was consistently reinforced -- whether it was through visiting the Yeshiva of Cachmei Lublin
, the holy kever
of Rav Elimelech of Lejask, or in synagogues steeped in history, like those in Lancut, as well as the Alte and Remah's shul. Juxtaposing this joy were the many heart-rending visits to notorious sites from the Holocaust. These included the mass children's grave at Zbilatowska Gora, and the concentration or death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Numbness, despair, horror, and incomprehension mingled with feelings of resilience and Jewish pride. These competing emotions permeated the visits and left an indelible impression on our students. On Shabbat in Krakow, students walked through the streets with their heads held high and spent time sharing their own family stories. With arms linked, students participated in a havdalah
ceremony in the Krakow ghetto square -- bringing some light to a dark place that was often the final gathering point for Jews before transport to the camps.
Twelve hours after an emotional trip through Birkenau where the group followed along the railroad tracks and out of the guard tower, students walked up the ramp to the Kotel. They prayed a very meaningful shacharit with the rising sun which seemed to mirror the revival of the Jewish people that rose from the ashes. Each experience in Israel, from jeeping, zip-lining, biking, experiencing a kumzitz, or packing food packages for the needy, brought us closer to the pinnacle of our journey -- Yom Yerushalayim.
Representing Ramaz at the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, students paraded through the streets of Yerushalayim where they joined thousands of others for a special Schwekey concert at the Kotel. The singing, dancing and unity of them as a grade, but more importantly as a nation, will perpetually echo in their hearts.