Thursday, April 15, 2010

March of the Living: Wall to Wall

We are in Israel. Our plane landed at nearly midnight, just in time to celebrate Melanie Katz' birthday in the terminal. Today was a very full day, as we saw seeing the remnants of the Warsaw Ghetto wall and then journeyed to Treblinka, which is about 2 hours drive from Warsaw.

In all we visited five death camps (if you count Auschwitz - Birkenau as one), more than enough for one lifetime, much less one week. But each camps tells a different and important part of the story, and each one displays it in a slightly different way. Treblinka, like Sobibor and Belzec, was totally destroyed by the Nazis, so the memorials leave more to the imagination, In fact, Treblinkas' is downright lovely, especially on a sunny day like today. The natural beauty seems oddly out of place, but since we had seen much more jarring images at other places, it actually served as a fitting coda to our journey. The many destroyed communities remembered there include the ancestral home of Dr. Harry Romanowitz, whose commitment to the cause of Holocaust education made this trip possible for many in our group. We took photos there (see the uploaded photos).

As our final ceremony in Poland concluded I spied - of all things - a lovely yellow butterfly, resting on a flower in the facsimile ash pit at the memorial. The great poem came to mind. The author never saw another butterfly in the ghetto - but we did, at the site of Treblinka. And it was time to leave for Israel.

The charter flight was filled with MOTL groups from Canada, France and the US. There was palpable excitement throughout the 4 1/2 hour trip as we approached our landing and that continued all the way up to Jerusalem, where we are now. It is such a thrill to see the look of excitement especially on the faces of those who have been waiting a lifetime to get here. Some even kissed the ground!

Photos are uploaded at - scroll down for today's pics. You'll see from the photos that while we waited in the terminal, just outside we could see a large transport plain unloading coffins from Smolensk. The military ceremony seemed to go on forever and was still going on when we boarded our plane. A sad bookend to a trip that began with the sad news of the Polish plane crash last week.
There is much, much more to say about the experience in Poland - but you'll just have to wait to hear it! Next Shabbat, when I return, will be a good time to start.

Tomorrow (today) we'll get to sleep in a little later, then head out to the old city, including the Kotel and Jewish Quarter. Weather is expected to be warm and beautiful - mid 70s, at least. It's cool right now as I look out from our lobby to the back porch where we'll be having services this morning. The lights from apartments and street lights dot the hillside across the way, suspended, it seems, in mid air. There is a certain claylike smell in the breeze, something that tells my senses that I am home.
It's very quiet... so I think I'll go catch a couple of hours sleep.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem
I've chronicled the experience in photos uploaded to - scroll down for today's photos.
Find earlier photos at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great pics. Thank you for posting.