Senior Heritage Trip 5779: News & Updates
Friday, May 10 (Day 10): Seniors began their Friday at Latrun for laser tag in a real battle field. Then, they began preparing for Shabbat where they visited the Shuk and Mea Shearim. Students are very happy and enjoying their last few hours in the Holy City. Tonight, the group is being hosted by Mr. Simon and Mrs. Chana Falic, together with the entire 10th grade, and alumni students who are learning in Israel. It is going to be a special night. There will also be a late night group (led by me and Mrs. Edwards) going to a Mea Shearim tish tonight at some of the famous chassidish Shuls.
Thursday, May 9 (Day 9): As expected, the students are having the best time connecting to Israel. Seniors had an unbelievable tefilla this morning and celebrated Yom Ha'Atzmaut in style. Seniors headed to a Segway tour in the City of David and then had some free time in Ben Yehudah. For dinner, seniors are going to Papagaio (Brazilian Steakhouse).
Wednesday, May 8 (Day 8): Seniors finally landed in Israel this afternoon, they gathered their belongings and headed to pay respects to our beloved Sammy Farkas a”h. It was a difficult 45 minutes of introspection. After the experience in Europe, it made it even harder. We recited tehillim, said El Maleh, and Kaddish. Students took time to tell Sammy how much they missed him and we all left with a heavy heart. We proceeded to the hotel, and hit ready for the tefillah. After the chagiga, all of the seniors had some time to walk around Ben Yehudah and eat dinner. As always, Yom Ha'Atzmaut in Israel is the highlight of the year.
Tuesday, Monday 7 (Day 7): Today seniors left Lublin and headed to the “local” death camp, that was in the middle of the city, Majdanek. It was raw and hard. It is the camp that was left in the best condition and was not bombed or destroyed. The group said Kaddish and reflected by the massive ash dome. As they left Majdanek, the idea was to slowly rise from the ashes, and they headed to the largest Jewish Cemetery in Europe, the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery. Seniors walked through the Warsaw memorial and ended with an uplifting song and dance at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial. A place where the local Jews knew their fate, but refused to be sent to gas chambers, and fought to preserve Jewish Dignity. It was an empowering moment, and the students felt so excited to be leaving Europe and head to Medinat Israel tomorrow morning. After a delicious dinner, Seniors had what have been the best reflections, as we closed the chapter on Europe.
Monday, May 6 (Day 6): Today was another emotional day for our seniors. They started the day by visiting the city of Tarnów, where every singe Jew from the community was killed (50,000 +) during the Holocaust. While the Nazis were ruining the city, they burnt down the old shul, and miraculously what remained was only the center bimah. Seniors stood under the bima and sang Avinu Malkenu loudly. Immediately after they boarded the bus for a quick 10 minute bus ride. The mood was serious when they arrived at the mass grave of 800 children from Tarnów. On the way walking in the polish guard told the group that as it’s told, the polish neighbors all said that for 24 hours they heard children crying and screaming and they didn’t know why. They also visited the grave of R’ Elimelech of ליזענסק. Tonight they arrive at Lublin.
Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 (Day 4 & 5): Shabbos in Prague was special! On Saturday night, our Seniors were treated to a private concert from a world famous Klezmer Band: Burstein Klezmer. It was truly uplifting. A perfect send off from Prague!
On Sunday, seniors arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Students were immediately struck by the endless amount of shoes displayed, roughly 70,000. They were blown away as they compared that to 6,000,000 lives lost. It was an emotional day, Raquel Zohar read a passage by Elie Wiesel to her classmates on the train tracks entering Auschwitz. Although the pain of what they were seeing was overwhelming, Seniors left feeling hopeful. After, they visited the Holy Rama Shul in Krakow. Then, Rabbi Assaraf taught students the famous Krakow Niggun, which was composed in that shul. They visited the graves of the Rama, Tosafot, Yom Yov, the Bach, and Yosele, the Miser. They finished their long day with a hot dinner in Rimonim Restaurant.
Friday, May 3 (Day 3): Seniors started their third day visiting the Jewish Quarter of Prague. They went to the Maharlas Shul (the AltNou) and got pretty close to the Golems attic. The Prague Jewish Holocaust memorial where the names of the 76,000 Jews of Prague who perished in the Shoah are written on every wall of the shul. Then they headed to the Old Jewish Cemetery, where the MAHARAL and the Kli Yakar are both buried. They also had the opportunity to eat a unique sweet treat which is a hybrid of a cinnamon sugar pretzel that was baked like a shawarma. They headed to Thieresenstadt (Terezin) the famous camp/ghetto that managed to fool the Red Cross. The ghetto is still standing with almost every single building still in existence. They will begin Shabbat at the Maharls shul, tomorrow at the Jerusalem Synagogue and Chabad of Prague. They will take a walking tour to Prague Castle over Shabbat.
Thursday, May 2 (Day 2): Seniors had a great start to their day! They davened at the Hotel and then headed to Chabad Berlin to read the Torah. They drove to Sachsenhousen, a former concentration camp, and had a truly emotional experience, especially on Yom Hashoah. Seniors sang songs, journaled in the crematorium, and said Kel Maleh in memory of all those who perished. Sachsenhousen is 25 miles north of the city center and was the first camp built and was intended to be a “trial camp” and eventually scale up. Seniors proceeded to Wannasee (the retreat villa) where the meeting of the 15 leaders of the time met and discussed logistics and how to carry out the atrocities of the extermination camps and ultimately the “final solution”. Seniors then packed up and headed to Prague to continue their journey.
Wednesday, May 1 (Day 1): After an amazing send off in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach, where we were able to hear first hand stories from the courageous Holocaust survivor David Schaechter, Seniors boarded the plane to Berlin, Germany. Our strong group of 35 seniors are about to experience life altering and inspiring moments as they journey through Germany, Prague, Poland, and Israel. After landing in Berlin, Seniors headed to the Jewish Ghetto. They then ventured to the Neue Shul, which was built in the 1800's as the main synagogue of the Berlin Jewish community. It was one of the only synagogues to survive Kristallnacht. After, they headed to the Reichstag, a government building that Hitler used for propaganda presentations and, during World War II, for military purposes. They walked through the Pariser Platz, where Nazi Military Parades took place, they visited Book Burning Square, and the Jewish Berlin cemetery. Seniors also noticed the golden bricks laid out on the floor signifying every place a Jew was deported from.