These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Poland Day 2: Conflicting Thoughts

Posted on January 17, 2018 by Barry Rosekind


Our second day brought out a lot of conflicting thoughts and tensions. There were parts of me that was hesitant to come to Poland. I thought why should I come visit a place where so many Jews were killed and we weren’t loved by a lot of our neighbors. We visited a shtetl named Tikocyn, where Jews first settled in the 1500s. There is a wonderful baroque synagogue built in 1642 and undergoing renovations. After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and controlled this shtetl, they rounded up all the Jews, and took them to a nearby forrest (Lupochowo) and murdered them into mass graves. Apparently the townspeople jeered as the Jews were rounded up…

We also heard the story of Jedwabne, where it wasn’t the Nazis who murdered the Jews but the poles who perpetrated the violence. There are some 80 plus towns with a similar history.

We were fortunate enough to spend time in the beautiful synagogue and sing and bring life to the shul. We also visited the Lupochowo forrest where the Jews of Lupochowo were murdered. The contradiction between the beauty of the place and what happened there has left an indelible mark on me. It conjures the Kain and Abel atoru – that the blood of Abel screamed to God. After the forrest we visited a death camp, Treblinka. It is said that a person could arrive at this camp in the morning, their corpse would be burned by the afternoon, and by the evening their clothing and possessions would already be on a train back to Germany.

The Nazis destroyed the camp and today a soviet artistic representation stands on the camp ground. The only witnesses remaining are the trees…

I still struggle with the hatred and violence that our people experienced in this country. Being able to experience Polish Jewish life is amazing. To witness sites where atrocities occurred during the Holocaust, while unpleasant, is imperative and important for any one to exeperience.

Barry Rosekind