Saturday, March 31st, 2012...7:09 pm

Shabbat in Warsaw

We woke up this morning to a delicious meal at the hotel of traditional Polish food. We then departed from the hotel in Warsaw for our first full day in Poland.

Our first stop was an Orthodox synagogue. We found the service to be unique and rewarding. All the girls had to sit on the balcony and were separated from the men during the service, which was an interesting contrast to our progressive service yesterday.

Following services we were welcomed by a nice rain storm and went to lunch at Aroma, an Israeli café. All of us indulged in our favorite Aroma treats including delicious sandwiches and salads along with Aroma’s signature iced coffee. During lunch we had the pleasure of meeting our first Madrichim (Young Polish Leader), Kaya, who was unfortunately only with us for the day. After lunch we began a tour of Warsaw which highlighted various monuments including those in memory of the Warsaw Uprising. Once we reached Old Town, a pedestrian area, we set off on foot to explore more. It was a beautiful part of the city that looked much like Italy or Paris. The buildings were stunning and because Warsaw sits atop a hill we were also treated to a spectacular view. After our tour we had free time during which most of us chose to walk around Old Town. Some of us were even lucky enough to find a jewelry store, in which we bought our first souvenirs of the trip. From the Old Town we walked back to our hotel through what began as light showers and quickly turned into a hail storm. Luckily, our hotel wasn’t too far.

Once we got back to the hotel and dried off a bit we had a group reflection session. During this session we were able to break up into small groups in order to openly discuss our ideas on the significance of the “saving a life” and how that understanding pertains to our service work here in Poland. We then regrouped and discussed the value of community and Jewish peoplehood.

We finally embarked on our last part of the day where we went to meet a group of Madrichim about an hour outside of Warsaw, in Terresin. We hung out for the evening in this old barn that was a very remodeled, modern, and eco-friendly spot! We went inside to meet and dine with our Polish peers. After a delicious meal we debriefed for the day and talked about our upcoming service projects. We then held a Havdallah service and danced the night away.

That’s all for now! YOPO (You only Poland once)

-Emily B., Erica S., Jamie T.

TRIP DESCRIPTION: Our group will be volunteering within the Jewish community in Poland for a week over Spring Break. The Jewish community in Poland currently has about 10, 000 individuals, with most of them living in Warsaw. The group will be volunteering in Warsaw for a week working with the kids and the community, learning about the economic situation and immersing ourselves in the culture.

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