2017 Poland Blog Day 1 – David Baruch

Today, Tuesday, March 13th, the Asher Strobel Leadership Program landed in Warsaw. We learned of Warsaw’s history as a prominent Jewish community. There was at one point 400,000 Jews in Warsaw, the largest Jewish community in Europe and second largest in the world.
Our first stop in Warsaw was the Jewish cemetery where there lies 250,000 Jewish graves. We visited the grave of Rav Shlomo Solomon Livshitz, the former chief rabbi of Warsaw, Yisroel of Mogetz who wrote beautiful niggunim which we still sing today, the Natziv, the rosh yeshiva of the Valashin, and Rav Chaim Solvechik who revolutionized the way we all learn Torah today.
Standing among the graves of thousands of my Jewish ancestors, I imagined what life was like for them.
While waiting to board the plane to Poland, Monday night, Manny Buchman (father of Diane Strobel) a holocaust survivor told me the reason he went on this trip with us. He said it is because his parents’ ashes are buried here (in Auschwitz) and he wishes to visit them.
For more than a thousand years, there have been Jews living in Poland and they have prayed, completed mitzvot, raised families, dreamed of moshiach, and dreamed of Zion, before there was ever the idea of Nazism
Although Jewish history in Poland is filled with tragedy and ultimately ended in fire and ash, the thousand years of Jewish history and culture of Poland should not be abandoned or forgotten.
In these upcoming days I will learn about the atrocities committed against the Jewish people of Poland, and I will take meaning from it. But I also will push myself to learn about the culture and history of the land my grandfather’s family lived in for generations.