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Reflections From The Poland Trip

02/01/20 04:10:27 PM

Jan2

Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

 

Last week in Poland was exhausting but invigorating. Our trip took us to many places where our Nation has suffered the worst of brutalities. For many, a trip like this is folly: "Why go to a coun- try with so much blood on their hands? Why support the local economy with your trip?"

The answer is quite simple, the positives on the trip outweighed the negatives 100:1. We heard many stories about faith and op- timism amidst these horrid places; we said Kaddish for our loved ones and Kel Maleh at the Gas Chambers in Auschwitz; we even stood outside the remains of the Great Synagogue of Jaslo, after which our building was designed.

Every dinner we decompressed and, yes, we even kibitzed.

There is really no precise formula for feelings on a trip like this.

I told my Mom that for my generation, and especially for people younger than me, to witness Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, was finally appreciated a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what happened because all the books and stories I had heard didn't even produce that .

So many people said Shema and Ani Ma'amin as they walked to their deaths - now it's our time to proclaim these words in Life.

I am not a big fan of "Guilt Judaism", it doesn't work. Coming to Poland doesn't guilt me into being a better Jew, rather it inspires me to live a life as my Grandparents had chosen to live, hence my life has more purpose and meaning and, yes, responsibility. And if that propels me to do more, then I embrace that.

Good Shabbos, Stay Jewish, Be Jewish, Live Jewish,

Sun, April 5 2020 11 Nisan 5780