Showing posts with label Beit Krakow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beit Krakow. Show all posts

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thank You for Sending Your Teens!

My final posting was a thank you to parents. I urge you to take this journey. Not just ot the Shoah, but to see what life was like for hundreds of years and could have been if not for the Shoah. And to see Jewish life beginning to return to Eastern Europe.

Thank You for Sending Your Teens! 
I was honored to chaperone the 46 teenagers in NFTY L’dor V’dor’s Group 11 on their flight to Europe. It was a little hairy making our connection in Warsaw, since our first flight took off almost an hour wait. But when your group is more than half the plane’s passengers, they hold the plane for you.

I found myself moved among the four different groups according to the needs of the staff and the capacity of the busses, so I was able to spend time with most of the members of groups 9, 10a and 11.

Ceremony at Terezin
It was an amazing adventure as we made our way from 13th Century Prague and Krakow to Terezin, Auschwitz/Birkenau and the Warsaw Ghetto to the vibrant communities of today.

As an educator, I often tell parents not to ask their kids “what did you learn in school today?” We all know the answer is genetically encoded: “Nothing.” When these fabulous teens get home they will say “Thanks for this opportunity, folks!” (They are good kids!). “Now I need to sleep.” Of course you will want to hear everything about the trip, even though you have been following it through these blogs and through conversations on the phone, e-mail and texts.

I tell parents to ask leading questions instead. So for a resource for the such questions for the first leg of the trip I recommend clicking on the links below. They are short and will give you an idea of what we experienced in Europe. Ask some questions about those places. For the rest of the trip, I recommend Google searching some of the sites they will be visiting.

Me and my (temple) kids
As I sit in a cafĂ© in Tel Aviv, I want to thank the amazing madrikhim (counselors) and mekhankhim (tour educators) and their unit leader Yotam for the work they are doing – they are wonderful! Jake, Paul and Rich and their staffs have put together a phenomenal team who keep the kids on schedule, keep them laughing and singing, and keep them learning and help them negotiate some emotionally challenging issues.

So thank you for sending your teens on L’dor V’dor. Thank you letting me share their experience. Now you have a job to do – YOU need to come to Israel. Not to support Israel, but to experience it for yourself. If you have already, it is probably time to come back. And I bet you know someone who will give you advice on what to do and see. You just have to wait a month to see them!

Your Homework:
Communities of Today:

After Auschwitz, a Tuba?

I am not sure if I am going to write about the visit to Birkenau in the morning nine days ago or Auschwitz in the afternoon. I will eventually, but I have had an internal issue with Shoah business for many years because of an unfortunate teaching experience involving the documentary Night and Fog. I have been blessed with teachers in my schools who are wonderful at teaching the topic, so I have been happy to leave it to them. That is going to change - at least for my involvement. For now, let's say it was a very emotional day for me and all of the staff and teens on the NFTY L'dor V'dor trip - as it would be for anyone.

After we returned to the hotel in Krakow to wash up and have a nice communal Shabbat Dinner, we joined the local Progressive Synagogue - Beit Krakow - for Kabbalat Shabbat. Here is that posting:

After Auschwitz, a Tuba?
By Ira J. Wise

Friday morning we took the bus from our hotel in Krakow to Birkenau/Auschwitz. It was a very emotional day as you might expect. After touring both camps, punctuated by a series of shared survivor testimonies read by participants and a ceremony to honor and remember the dead, we were all pretty drained, emotionally Dinner.

We returned to the hotel for a shower and Shabbat and tried to return to the land of the living. Who knew all we needed was an accordion, a baritone tuba and a hammer dulcimer?
Rabbi Segal is on guitar at left. And yes, that is a tuba!

Following dinner we traveled to Beit Krakow – a Progressive congregation which holds services at the Galicia Museum. The Galicia is in a building in the Kazimirz, the old Jewish community of Krakow. It is filled with art produced by local Jewish artists and photographers and has a book shop and coffee shop. The museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Beit Krakow held services in a large open space in the back, amid exposed brick and more another rt exhibit. The room was filled with people – over 160 of  us with NFTY – plus more than 100 members of the community and visitors in town for the annual Jewish Festival.

Services were led by Rabbi Tanya Segal. She was joined by three musicians, One played what appeared to be a hammer dulcimer as well as a flute. Another had and accordion and the third played a baritone tuba! Most of the tunes were familiar to most of our teens – especially those who attended our camps or are part of NFTY youth groups. The phrasing was a little different, but it was a joyful noise! Some our teens and madrikhim got up to dance in the side exhibit hall.

Beit Krakow's
I grew up singing Cantor Steve Sher’s Dodi Li. It is one of my favorites. It sounded fabulously different with accordion and tuba! It was the same and different all at once. The way Rabbi Segal led the service was a bit different than what most of us are accustomed to. Yet realizing that we had spent the day quite literally in the valley of the shadow of death it was amazing to see how Polish Jewry is coming back to life!

If you have the opertunity to make the pilgrimage we have to Birkenau/Auschwitz, I highly recommend you make arrangements to spend Kabbalat Shabbat with Beit Krakow! – it will soothe your soul after the turmoil of the visit to the camps!