by Amos P., Fall 2013 Student
If I had to use only one word to sum up my masa to Poland, it would be fulfilling. The masa was not simply a depressingly meaningful experience to bear witness to the systematic destruction of centuries of Jewish life; it was also a well-structured, educational tiyul and a pleasantly enjoyable vacation. I had fun when I was supposed to have fun, I participated in class and in our tekes in Auschwitz II – Birkenau, and I processed the Holocaustic aspects of the trip in a way I found worthwhile.
I have always loved to travel, and basically all aspects of the tiyul that were not focused on death filled me with the utmost contentment. I was in a new country, and everything from the hotels and the food to class in places like Krakow and Tykochin was exciting. Participating in class discussions, asking questions, and singing in song sessions and in services only enriched the depth and involvement of the masa.
Along this line, I have taken a great step forward in grasping the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and farther down the same path, all injustice existing in humanity has been pushed to the forefront of my mind. I have gained more tools, knowledge, and motivation to pursue one of my life goals of spreading acceptance and even love of differences while simultaneously learning of such differences myself. Of course, engrained in history of the country Polish Jews once dubbed “Po Lan Yah”, or “Here Lies God”, is the reason for our pilgrimage in the first place: the Shoa. Omnipresent throughout our masa was the terrifying idea that almost three-and-a-half million Polish Jews, along with the culture that belonged to them, disappeared over the course of a few short years. Visiting the Puchova Forest, the ghettos, and the concentration and death camps, I felt a major piece of the puzzle fall into place accompanied by an undercurrent of anger.
This goal is my way of remembering the Holocaust, and it is my way of working to make sure it, be it discrimination, injustice, or genocide of any kind, is removed from humanity for good. In short, the week was one of the most enjoyable, inspiring, and fulfilling of my life.