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 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 routes 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 finally Krakow. On this journey you will have the chance to experience ancient synagogues, shtetls, cemeteries 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 and the incredible salt mines.
This trip offers a wide variety of history and culture, allowing us to remember the past, while looking towards the future.
Arrive in Warsaw and head straight to Tykochin, a small Shtetl in the North East of the country. Here we will see what remains of Jewish life in the village and the cemetery before continuing to Lupokova Forest where there community eventually was destroyed. After this we’ll continue onto Treblinka death camp where much of Polish Jewry lost its life.
Today will be spent appreciating the Jewish life that existed in Warsaw before the war and bearing witness to what happened during the war. We’ll start the day at the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe and POLIN – the museum dedicated to Polish Jewish life. We will visit the remnants of 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 today which still hosts regular daily services, the Nozyk synagogue.
Today will be spent in the Eastern areas of Poland around Lublin. We will start with a tour of Lublin and visit the Jewish sites of what was once a very important Center for Jewish life, including the unique building which once housed the first modern-style Yeshiva. We will then continue onto the Madjanek camp, a place where you need little imagination to see the horror of the place. We’ll then continue into Galicia and go to another shtetl, called Krasnik, before continuing into Lancut.
On 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 Lancut, Tarnow and Zbylitowska Góra, before arriving at the major city in the region Krakow in the afternoon. Here we will tour of the old Jewish Neighborhood of Kazimierz before having dinner and preparing for our next day.
We will spend most of the day visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of all the death camps. Then in the afternoon, we will unwind and visit the the UNESCO World heritage site, Wieliczka Salt Mine. You simply have to experience it to believe it. We will then return to Krakow to do visit a few more sites, like Vavel Castle and Krakow Town Center before flying home to Israel the next morning!