March With Us!
Posted on 05/03/2019 @ 01:00 PM
With the largest contingent in years (157 students + staff) and one of the largest in the world, The Leo Martin March of the Living took off from South Florida early Sunday morning and then transferred to a charter at JFK (with a kosher pizza break on the way). Red Bus is led by Rabbi Guido Cohen of Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. The group continued on to Poland, landing on Monday morning for the culminating two weeks after 6 months of preparation and education.
The first day was spent in the Old Town/Jewish Ghetto of Krakow, where among other holy sites, students visited the Rema Synagogue and Cemetery to pay their respects. Rabbi Eli Wolf (Purple Bus educator) of the Beth David/Highland Lakes Shul discussed the impact of the Rema--Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the Ashkenazi voice/ co-author of the 16th century Shulchan Aruch, the foremost code of Jewish law today. Learning along with the students were Peter Tarjan (child survivor from Hungary) and Dr. Kenneth Ratzen (trip doctor).
After that, all four bus groups gathered together at the magnificently restored Tempel Synagogue, which when it was built was referred to as the “Reform” shul (though it was Modern Orthodox) because sermons were given in Polish rather than Yiddish and instrumental music was played before Shabbat. Students learn about the important values of Klal Yisrael and Ahavat Yisrael/ acceptance and love for every Jew, which keep the Jewish people together despite our myriad differences.
At Temple, our students and staff learned more about the Krakow Jewish community and then after so much sadness, rejoiced in bringing Jewish life to a synagogue that is generally used today only for concerts.
The final stop was at the Krakow umshlagplatz (deportation place) where students and staff gathered to hear stories about Righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to help Jews during the war, including the complex case of Oskar Schlindler (made famous in Steven Spielberg’s movie, Schindler’s List). Less well-known is the case of Pope John Paul II who immediately after the war was ordained a priest in Krakow. When a Catholic rescuer came to him hoping to baptize a Jewish baby left in her care, the future pope refused when he heard that the parents had given explicit instructions to send the boy to Jewish relatives in the United States if the parents did not return to claim him and then he made sure the child was repatriated to his Jewish family.
To view more photos from the trip, please link to SmugMug