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Following My Daughter’s Journey

Miriam Klein Adelman

The halls are filled with the sounds of Torah of the rabbanim whose gravesites we will visit, the sounds of girls preparing themselves to visit the towns of great chassidic leaders and the desolate fields of the death camps, and the sight of students readying themselves to face whatever emotional and spiritual challenges lie in Poland. The above is an excerpt from an e-mail from my daughter before she left to Poland on a tour last week. On the itinerary was Auschwitz, Majdanek, and an array of cemeteries.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

train“Polandis a giant graveyard,” Avigayil said to me in a phone conversation while on her trip. “I feel like I’m walking on bones and blood.” And in an e-mail: “Polandis so scary. I’ve never felt so unsafe in my life and never wanted to be home so badly. Especially since I just watched Schindler’s List and I’m in the place where it all happened.”

She is 18, and my husband and I questioned if this was the right thing for her seminary to do. The seminary apparently feels very strongly about it. It’s mandatory for any student who attends. My mother-in-law, anAuschwitzsurvivor, was — I’m going to use the word “happy,” for want of a better one — that her grandaughter was going. Before the trip, she gave Avigayil her “number” and other specific details of her life in the camps, too gruesome to even contemplate.

I looked at the itinerary of their trip that was e-mailed me and cried for a half hour. All the names of the towns inPoland— the names that I grew up hearing about, even though I do not have a Polish background — jumped out at me. Krakow,Warsaw, Zamosc,Lublin,Kielce. Our heritage as Jews. Now it’s one mammoth cemetery. There is no — or very little — Jewish life there. Avigayil’s glad about that. She saysPolandis ugly.

What effect will this trip have on her, I wonder?

Her grandmother said to her before she left, “I just want you to know that everything you will see and hear when you go there is true.” 


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