tuesday april 25th posts

From Zachary Epstein:

During the Holocaust, the Nazis often found the horror in such beautiful things. Today, on Yom Hashoah, I found the beauty within the horror.

Along with my 10,000 brothers and sisters, we brought life to the death camps of the Jewish people. We walked in together, and we proudly walked out strong. 

The memories of the six million Jews who died along with many others will never be forgotten - always remembered

Yom Hashoah, 4/24/2017

The Holocaust concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau were long harbors of death and destruction. But today, 72 years after their liberation, we brought life and vitality to them while commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. And we - our families, the Jewish people, the 12,000 who marched from one camp to the next today, and the countless others who remember and bear witness to our stories - aren't going anywhere. Grateful to be back in Poland to honor the lives of the 6 million Jewish and millions more additional victims of the Holocaust. #neveragain

—Jori Epstein

Pre-Shabbas update, Friday 4/21

April 21, 2017

Dear Parents,

Heading into Shabbat, we had a meaningful and productive day in Krakow and surrounding towns. Waking up early, we headed to the city of Tarnow to pray and dance at the site of an old synagogue. All that remains now is the bimah (altar) from the synagogue, and the group enjoyed bringing more vitality and Judaism to the site that once had so much of both. We then visited Zbiyiltovska Gora, venturing into a beautiful forest starkly contrasting its contents – mass graves for Poles, and particularly young Jewish children, who were murdered there by the Nazis. We followed that stop with a stroll through the Krakow Jewish quarters where we visited the synagogue of the Rama, the great Rabbi Moshe Iserles, as well as the adjoining cemeteries. Rabbi Tannenbaum shared stories of many righteous men and women whose graves we visited. 

The kids are now resting and getting ready before Shabbat, when we’ll join March of the Living groups from all around the world for services, meals and eventually Havdalah. Sunday we’ll head to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, before entering Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on Sunday night. The actual March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau with all international participants will be Monday.

Below are some thoughts from trip participants Michael Schramm and Heidi Kravitz. We’re attempting to upload pictures as well if Wi-Fi permits!

Have a good Shabbas,



 “The Warmth of a Boxcar”

“The warmth,” he said. 

But all I feel is cold.

As I look at the wood, the window,

I feel trapped. What did they feel?

How can a human being force

Thatmany people in to their

Deaths and still have a soul?

My heart broke when I saw Max,

Just finished his speech try to leave

“Stay” said Rabbi but he didn’t know

All warmth had left long ago,

Replaced with death and cold. 

-Michael Schramm, 4/20 from the Lodz ghetto memorial boxcar


“The 800”

An open pit lays waiting

For children stolen from their home.

But this is no grave

This is no resting place.

Empty graves lay waiting,

For adults that never grew to be, 

This is broken futures,

This is lost dreams.

-Michael Schramm, 4/21 from Zbyiltovska Gora foreset


I wonder what the natives think about the mass destruction and loss of life that occurred beneath their feet, right in their homes. Do they wonder about the families that used to bask in love and religion where they sleep? Do they ever take the same journey to work that so many took to their death? Are they educated about what happened in their hometown at a young age, or when they are older? Is it becoming possible to not even be aware of our surroundings and assimilate to the extent of neglecting.

-Heidi Kravitz, 4/20 on passing through Lodz and the Lodz ghetto


Some parts of Poland display what I conceived Poland to resemble: decay, destruction; however, some parts are utterly beautiful, making it somewhat possible to comprehend how beauty can grow from the dirtiest depths, lending hope to so many that they truly are repairable and can radiate beauty and regrow. 

-Heidi Kravitz, 4/21 on busing around Poland