What Poland Taught Me

3 months ago Leighest 0

By Elie Glaser/Leeds, England

Before attending Heritage Quest, I had read many books and seen movies about the Holocaust, and had learned about it briefly in school. It was a totally different experience to see the history of it up close. Being in Poland helped me appreciate and relate to the history from a persona level. 

One of the most powerful moments of the entire trip was standing outside of the gas chamber in Majdanek singing Shema arm in arm with the other girls.  After learning about how the last words of the victims were often the Shema, it was surreal to then sing it together. This is a moment that will stay with me forever. It helped give me strength and help me understand that no matter what the Jewish people will always be united and no amount of darkness can stamp out our flame. In Poland, I learned that it takes courage to open up your heart to the pain of our people’s history, but that doing so elevated my understanding of myself and of the Jewish people as a whole.

My experience in Poland shaped my belief about anti-semitism and helped me understand that no matter how scared we are or how hurtful it becomes, I should always stay true to myself and my faith and let the opposition strengthen my Jewish pride rather than hinder it. I now am sure that no amount of antisemitism will ever stop Judaism from being the foremost part of my identity.