Poland: It's not just a graveyard!
On Aardvark, we are doing this differently.
For centuries, the Jewish people had a vibrant religious and cultural life in Poland until the destruction of the community in the Holocaust. This trip will explore that rich history, understand its eventual destruction and also look at the re-birth of the Jewish community and of Poland itself. We will visit sites of Jewish pilgrimage, whilst also seeing what else Poland has to offer.
In addition to all of this we will need to look at modern Poland itself. Poland is one of Israel's only friends in an increasingly hostile United Nations. The vast majority of Polish people were born after the Holocaust and have a positive approach to Judaism unlike their ancestors. Many of them are even discovering that they have Jewish roots and are an integral part of the Jewish renaissance now happening all over Poland. Poland has become a modern, democratic European country and a major tourist destination.
The trip will take you on a journey from Warsaw to Lublin, Galicia and Krakow and finally Zakopane. On this journey you will have the chance to experience ancient synagogues, shtetls, cemetaries and death camps and gain a greater understanding of the Jewish community of Poland pre- and post- WWII. You will also get the chance to visit quaint Polish towns and villages, castles, palaces, the incredible salt mines, and get the chance to ski in one of Europe's up and coming Ski Resorts.
This trip offers a wide variety of history and culture, allowing us to remember the past, while looking towards the future.
Tuesday - Day 1
Arrive in Warsaw, where we will visit important sites in Jewish history. We will visit the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetary, one of the largest cemetaries in Europe, we will visit her remnants of the the Ghetto wall, Mila 18 and the Rappaport memorial and the Umschlagplatz (the collection point to transfer Jews to Treblinka). We will also visit the Israeli embassy and visit the only surviving synagogue in Poland which still hosts regular daily services, the Nozyk synagogue.
Wednesday - Day 2
For our second day we will begin by travelling to Kazimierz Dolny, a picturesque village with a rich Jewish history, full of stories and legends. We will then continue onto Lublin, where we will visit the Jewish sites of what was once a very important Center for Jewish life, before finishing the day at the Madjanek. In the evening, we will visit a unique building which once housed the first modern-style Yeshiva.
Thursday - Day 3
One this day, we will travel through the Jewish heartland of Poland - Galicia. We will meet every type of Jew from history, exploring towns and villages as we make our way to Krakow. We will visit Lezajsk, Lancut, Tarnow and Zbylitowska Gora, before arriving in Krakow in the evening.
Friday - Day 4
We will spend the entire day visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of all the death camps. Then in the evening, we will undergo a dramatic transformation as we enter a special Shabbat experience in Kazimierz, the old Jewish part of Krakow.
Shabbat - Day 5
After Shabbat services with the local Jewish community, we will have lunch and participate in a morning walking tour of Kazmierz, the Old Jewish district of Krakow, as well as an afternoon tour of non-Jewish tourist sites in Krakow. As Shabbat goes out, we will depart for Zakopane, a town dubbed "the winter capital of Poland" as it rests at the foot of the Tatra Mountains.
Sunday - Day 6
We will spend the day skiing in the holiday town, Zakopane, as well as learning the story of Lena Kichler-Zilberman, who established a local orphanage to help surviving children of Holocaust victims.
Monday - Day 7
We will spend the morning visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, Wieliczka Salt Mine. You simply have to experience it to believe it. We will then return to Krakow to visit a few more sites before flying home to Israel!
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