Today (Friday) we took a bus ride to a forest called Zyblitowska Gora. Before we entered the forest our tour guide read us a letter that a survivor has kept with her since she was two years old. This letter was written by the survivor’s mother the night before she and her husband were forced to give her to child rescuers. The survivor’s mother hoped her daughter would have this letter with her until she was old enough to read it. She wrote about the unconditional love that parents have for their children. The letter said that a parent would do anything and everything to protect their child and the only way to protect her would be to give her up. Unfortunately her parents perished in the Holocaust, but she has had this letter with her for her whole life to remember them.

When we walked into the forest we saw three separate pits fenced in by green gates. Similar to the forest that we visited near Tikuchin, the gates were draped in Israeli flags, balloons, letters, candles, and rocks. Our tour guide took us to the pit that was filled with Jewish children from the town of Tarnow. These children were torn away from their families and their homes and brought to these pits where they were shot dead by the Nazis.

After our tour guide read us the letter and after he eulogized the people of Tarnow, he informed us that each of our parents wrote us letters as well. We all went off on our own into the forest to read our letters and write letters back.

Up until this point it has been so difficult for me to understand and imagine what had actually happened. But sitting in front of this pit, where hundreds and thousands of Jews were murdered, has made it so real.

This was an experience none of us will ever forget. It truly gave me an appreciation for my parents and everything they do for me. These last few days have been harder than any of us could have imagined but we have all learned so much. If I take one thing away from this trip it is that we are so lucky to have Israel.  It also makes us realize how crucial Israel will always be for the Jewish people.  When I think of “never again” I feel that can only be a reality if we keep the State of Israel safe from all its enemies.

Shavua Tov
Am Yisroel Chai


Ps. Shabbos blog to follow!