I will not bore you with the details of travel, only to say that if you do need to fly to Poland, bring meals with you. The food leaves a lot to be desired... even for airline food.
Zippy Gur had us on the run from the get-go today. Our day began at the Jewish archive/museum, which provided a very sobering picture of Jewish life in Warsaw before and during the war. What I found most fascinating was the room that included an arc, reader's/cantor's table, and other religious artifacts including Torah covers from Greece.
One of the questions that kept being posed was why didn't the Jews revolt sooner than January 1943? We kept coming back to process. We need to remember that the final solution was a work in progress and not a fully-formed idea. Therefore, there was always hope that life would get better.
From there we were off to lunch and our first experience of Polish cuisine. And it left a lot to be desired. We were brought to the Warsaw equivalent of Ross Park mall. The verdict: expensive and not that good. But we were hungry and it was fairly quick food.
In all honesty, the day is a bit of a blur. I (and the rest of the group) were all tired and bleary-eyed. I need to review my photographs to get the chronology correct and to post images (which will happen tomorrow). However, one of the more moving moments for me was standing at the one remnant of the southern ghetto wall. You do get a sense of how easy it was to isolate the Jews and at the same time could appreciate how, because of the brick wall, it would be possible to set up a smuggling operation to get contraband goods into the ghetto. We also visited the Jewish cemetery, which presented its own series of stories about Jewish life in Poland. Again, pictures will be forthcoming. Really.
This evening we heard remarks from the Progressive movement's resident Rabbi and the resurgence of Jewish life in the country. (I apologize, I cannot remember his name at the moment. It's now 20:50 and I'm working on very little sleep at all — in fact, I been told more than a dozen times how to say thank you in Polish and for the life of me cannot make it stick in my brain. And I like learning languages!) What I found fascinating was this idea of creating (or recreating?) a Jewish world in a country that saw more than 90% of its Jewish population murdered in the last great world conflict. I need to ponder why this would be of interest to the population. The Rabbi called it a path of discovery of the lost or hidden Jewish identity (my words). But is this enough to create a resurgent population to make Jewish culture vibrant in Poland?
Hopefully tomorrow's post will be more coherent.