And here I am, yet again, with my heart in my throat, tears in my eyes, sick in my stomach and a hand over my mouth, reading about a neighbour-to-neighbour slaughter of every Jew (men, women, children) at the hands of not just the Nazis (I’m sorry, all of my history teachers, you have been white-washing the history while indoctrinating us with false patriotism, talking about the Polish pride, golden freedom and your righteous code), but their own neighbours, who took kitchen knives in their hands, entered the houses of their Jewish neighbours and within less than a week slaughtered every single one of them. Five thousand Jews were slaughtered in that pogrom. In that small, tiny village that means absolutely nothing on the map, the representatives of three different nations (German, Polish and Ukrainian) managed to find determination and unfailing strength in their arms to lift their guns and knives at people who were defenseless. Love your neighbour like yourself, the commandment that is central to Christianity, just at it is central to Judaism, didn’t apply here. Chas v’shalom.
I know where to look for the said family now – in Yad vaShem.
I am at war with myself most of the time. On one hand, I grew up in Poland. I had friends there. My family still lives there. My brother studies at the university near the town I am reading about at this very moment and he has friends too. Sometimes I call my Mum to say: “Hey Mum, I’m now in X”. She answers usually: “Oh, that’s next to us”, but she never asks for details. … More Lost For Words: When the Jew in me argues with the Pole
Following [my heart] through pain of separation, routine, solitude and, what I thought, death, I discovered the strangest thing; the stillness of the waters of my heart, which now instead of chasing love, make room for it. … More “Life of Esther”: Journal entry 23 June
“No-one sends birds to flying school so they will be ready to fly when they need to. No-one teaches them the routes on which they need to migrate annually. No-one sends cubs to a school to teach them how to be lions. No-one even sends children to a children school to teach them how to be children. But, somewhere during the course of our lives, doubt comes in, and we think that we have to learn everything in advance otherwise we will never be ready. Consequently we never take a step forward and we are always afraid of making a mistake. Just as the birds, the cubs and the children don’t need a school to teach them how to live, so don’t you. When the time comes, you take the step, even the smallest one, but without thinking how you will handle it later – and you will see how far you can fly”. … More The Art of Non-Waiting
Sanatorium Dzwonkówka Połoniny St. Szczawnica Pieniny Date: 21st of May 1946 PATIENT HISTORY On 17th of May 1946, Stanisław Rożek was admitted to our sanatorium at the request of his mother, Eva Weiss. The patient presented with a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder combined with psychotic episodes and a suspicion of schizophrenia. The initial … More Stasio
Rypnik, 18th October 1937 My dearest Leib, I am very sorry that you had to wait so long for my reply. As you know, sending letters from Poland is quite impossible at this moment and so I had to wait for Helena to travel to Paris to visit her in-laws, thus forwarding my letter to the … More From Poland with Love: The Case of Leib
Jewish? You came on Birthright. You experienced the beauty of this vibrant country, perhaps even fallen in love; scoring the majority of points on your bucket list including Masada, the Dead Sea, the Kotel, the Tel Aviv beach, amazing food and/or an Israeli soldier (whatever rocks your boat, I’m not judging) and now you’re on your … More Young Aliyah: 10 reasons why it’s not all Guns and Roses
Mikveh. The ritual which is central to Judaism and yet the one which is so misunderstood. This is the moment that everyone who converts awaits with equal anxiety and anticipation. It marks both the end of a journey and the completely new beginning. The new life. Literally. Elisheva: Once the beit din approved my conversion, … More Guide to the Convert Vol. 6: The Big Bath
D-Day with the beit din is what every prospective convert simultaneously desires and fears. After months of experiencing not only attending classes, but also hearing people’s stories the level of one’s trust drops to somewhere around zero. You don’t know what is going to happen to you. The meeting can be your last, but it … More Guide to the Convert Vol.5: Judgment Day
Jewish community is unlike anything I have previously experienced. It’s not just a group of people who live in a commune and therefore they know each other. These are the people that deeply care for each other, look after each other’s children, go to the same weddings and pray at the shuls. Being a convert … More Guide to the Convert Vol. 4: Community – for better, for worse
Dating should be, in my humble opinion, one of the topics that is openly discussed with the candidates. Say, pros and cons in terms of how it affects their relationship with the beit din. How will their dating life look post-conversion? What are the biggest struggles? Just as many aspects of family laws aren’t discussed … More Guide to the Convert Vol.3: Dating for dummies