The next journey begins Poland and Rwanda 2019

The next journey begins  Poland and Rwanda 2019
2019 adventures

Sunday, July 21, 2019

New adventure begins

I just took my first Malaria pill and hoping I do not have  bad reaction.  I am excited to begin this next adventure to a part of the world I have not been to before  with new friends and actually meeting up with  new ones whom I met in Poland when they gave their personal testimonies. I am more than excited to meet  our group leader, Carl Wilkins - who himself is a remarkable individual with a more than remarkable story. He asked that we listen to a podcast prior to the trip which is actually with a Holocaust survivor  who speaks about dealing with all kinds of trauma and reconciliation.

So I hope some of my friends and family will continue to follow my journey and maybe read some of the following articles that may help to give you a background of this country that I will visit, experience, and I am sure come away changed as a human being.

 Rwanda today

Carl Wilkins


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I want to end this part of my blog with my favorite photo. More than three cups of tea.
Friends, serenity, understanding, love - and dreams
Thanks you guys!!!!


A long ride home to NJ but uneventful. I was glad to be warm again and not having to be in borrowed clothes- although it was well appreciated and a memory we will laugh at.  I am going to add a few photos that I did not include in previous posts:

Yes I am wearing the same clothes and I apologized at each place for wearing these clothes that belonged to Kubi - because I was so cold.  It was only in the 50's and I had brought only one long sleeve shirt and a denim short jacket, so I do apologize for not being appropriately dressed in the mayor's office! He laughed at the reason why. He served us hot tea and was very gracious.
You will see me talking with Kubi"s students, a photo of me with his co worker and his head master, a photo with the kids, a photo in the office of the Mayor of  Skoki, and a moving moment with Jakub and Alicia at the site of a Jewish cemetery on the side of the road which includes one of the original headstones recovered at this site, Jakub lighting a memorial candle.

The Auschwitz International conference could not have been possible without the support of Rahway High School and Kean University HRC. So again my humble thanks to you. The conference may not have answered the questions about modern genocide but at least the questions are asked. How to relate the Holocaust in a world with no survivors remains a daunting task for us educators.
The common denominator is education.

The new friends I have made at the conference include survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and - as it is a small world- I will be seeing them when I am in Rwanda. Meeting once again with my friend Adam was also a highlight for me.

Meeting with Polish teenagers who are no different than any other teenager but with special talents and different ideas, feelings unique to them. They were kind, enthusiastic, very respectful and certainly loved their teacher Mr. Kubi!

Attending a Shabbat service when I had no clue any JEWS lived in Poland let alone the city of Poznan. Thanks to Alicia Kobus Judaism is still alive albeit not thriving, in parts of Poland. But she is a force not to be reckoned with! She seems to always get her way.

Meeting new friends who treated me like a VIP and having fun- because in the midst of this world where so much evil and hatred resides there is still fun to be had, and life to enjoy.

Most of all my good friend , mentor, fellow educator Kubi. Without him none of these experiences would have occurred, He is a wealth of knowledge  and the Yiddish dictionary definition of a "mench."  I can not wait for him to visit so I can try to show him the same kind of hospitality

but without the home cooking lol.

today I am trying to get over major jet lag and had no clue if it was day or night when I woke up.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Murowana Goslina

Last day and what a full day it was!
Early train to Kubi home town. We went to the school that he teaches in and met with his headmaster ( principal) and several students. They were so enthusiastic to hear about my role as a teacher in New Jersey. They clearly love "Mr Kubi" and he deserves his title of Best Teacher in Poland!  I just learned he actually did receive this. We met also once again with Alicia Kobus who took us to a site where she was responsible for the research and the marking of a Jewish Cemetery in a small town of Skoki. At 72 she is a force to be reckoned with. She never takes "NO" for an answer and has gone to heads of states, countrues etc to make sure sites are marked and memorialized. We lit memorial candles as well.  We then actually met with the Mayor of the town Mr. Tadeusz Klos Burmistrz who was so kind to see us and through Kubi's translating learned about the town and that he, the mayor is not a Trump fan! I like this guy.  I felt very important meeting the mayor! Mr Burmistrz . I told him about the town of Skokie Illinois and he was unaware there was a town in USA with same name- albeit spelled differently.

We then went to Kubi's house for a typical Polish meal that was soooo delicious. There was enough for the whole town.  All the vegetables were from her garden.
The home made cakes, and if that was not enough to put on the pounds we went for LODI (ice cream).  We bid Alicia and Jakub's Mom goodbye and headed back to his school where many of his students and their parents came to watch the film
"who will write our history" the film about the Oneg Shabbat archives, I have seen this film before . After the movie we had a discussion about the film. The students were shy but seemed to really be moved by the film. Kubi and another teacher translated (Kubi must be exhausted from a week of translating for me) I gave my perspective on the film and offered some information I knew about the archives. I got the feeling there was a bit of discomfort for them being Polish to see this film and learn about the Polish people who were less than empathetic and often profited from turning in Jews but there are also those who helped as we all know such as Irena Sendler and many more. There is a memorial site right outside of this school commemorating another Jewish cemetery. Kubi is presently working on having a bench of meditation at this site.

We headed back to Poznan and Dymitr was waiting for us. He gave me another thrill ride through the underground parking lot which was more like a race car experience. We shared a small meal in Kubi"s flat talked and as you can see I wanted to be eye to eye so I stood on a chair to say fare well for now.  I called Jennie and my sister so they could meet my new friends. Jennie thanked them for being so kind and taking good care of me- which they did. I asked "d" to make sure there is a room at the castle just for me!

Packed ready to go and I have to be up in three hours
enjoy the photos and I apologize for the typos I will try to fix later from home

OWINSKA Kubi pointed out  this town to me, while on the train ,which was actually the very first place the Nazi"s killed people (not Jews)( who had disabilities and considered not worth living.) prior to the infamous T4 in Berlin

Sunday, July 7, 2019


We had lovely breakfast- again pprepared by Jakub and had our morning walk to train. Did I mention his flat is a 5 story walk up? I counted 55 steps each way of course. So I hopefully have not put on pounds.
We headed to the little city of GNIEZNO and met two more of Jakub's friends. Brothers who have lovely voices and sing in church choir.  This city is the :city of Churches:  Churches dot each corner and led up to the huge catheredral- dating fromthe 11th century. We had lunch cafeteria style and I finally had my perogies!

We visited a site that once a Jewish cemetery stood but was destroyed during the Nazi invasion.  The Jewish community was small- only about 2000- but nonetheless a target for extermination.
  In the catherdral Gniezno’s Cathedral, the final resting place of (parts of) Poland's patron saint, St. Adalbert, is also regarded as the spiritual home of Poland’s former monarchy. Built by the first official ruler of Poland, Mieszko I, not long after his 966 baptism, it’s here that Poland’s first five kings were crowned (Mieszko, despite being the official first ruler of Poland, was not a crowned king).the 'Gniezno doors' actually are the first visual proof that Jews were in this town in the 10th century. There are documents that confirm one of the panels on this bronze door shows a Jewish man.

There s also a site where once a Jewish Synagogue stood. Alicia Kobus- the welcoming woman at Shabbat dinner is responsible for making these Jewish sites marked in this area and in Poznan.  

We enjoyed some tea and cake and bid goodbye to Jakub"s friends.  Back to Jakub"s flat and a sushi dinner.  Today is my final day here and we are headed to Jakub:s home town to have homemade lunch with  his his mother and to meet some of his students.

It has been unusally COLD. I was not prepared and am wearing Jakub:s sweat pants and his long warm sweater. In addition I was stupidly searching his bathroom for a hair dryer and not thinking that in fact he does not ne
ed one LOL.  Enjoy the photos of breakfast, then the meeting in Gniezno, the sites I have seen.

Another adventurous day

SPEED!  Driving down  winding roads, highways at speeds exceeding 120 MPH in an Audi with a driver who is an incredibly talented  driver and architect. I did NOT white knuckle it- I LOVED IT.

So we went to "The Castle"All I can say was  beyond words and description. Game of Thrones has nothing on this! trust me on that. And If i have peaked your curiousity Im sorry  you will have to visit me for details. I practically had to sign a non disclosure agreement ( workers do!)

After like 3 hours , hundreds of steps, spiral, and otherwise, we had lunch and a beauiful visit with Kubi"s mom. She has a green thumb producing fruit and vegetable, herbs and flowers in her garden,

Finally we attended an outdoor production of " Orzel Krzyz" a history of Poland with pyrotechnics, story telling, horses and lots of Mother Nature RAIN! I did not understand a thing until the show was up to Word War 1 and 2 and Pope John Paul II
and I have to admit after the night before of 3 am and a few hmmmm drinks I nodded off a few times :(

So this little foursome of my new friends and  I  shared Shabbat Friday Night and Catholic focus on Polish history Saturday night.

I had to bid two of my  new little brothers a fond fare well and hope that they will visit me someday-  Did you know that a Visa is required for Poles to travel to USA but not the other way?  Does that make sense? Especially with USA having troops in Poland!

A cabin in the woods,sharing tea, and look through the trees- can you see it?
My heart is full- thank you friends .

Saturday, July 6, 2019

for those who are curious

history of  the Jews in Poznan