Travel Anxiety

I feel very humbled and privileged that at the end of the month I am joining an interfaith bus on the March of the Living- something I’ve never done before. I went to a number of the German concentration camps in my early 20’s, and I’ve been to Poland, but I haven’t been to any of the extermination camps and, if I’m honest, pretty anxious. I have never really wanted to visit Auschwitz, feeling this is a history non-Jews need to learn about far more than Jews. But the unique nature of being part of an interfaith bus, and the fact that soon there will be no survivors to directly tell their stories, meant this felt like an important trip to say yes to.

On Sunday night we had our first meeting and we are clearly in excellent hands. We were shown a map of our journey and it was chilling to hear of a visit to a site where Jews were shot into the graves they had dug- the fate of my maternal grandma’s cousins. We saw Łódź on the map, the birthplace of my paternal grandfathers wife, who I only ever knew as grandma. We don’t know if her parents died there or in the Warsaw ghetto. She would hate that I am travelling to Poland. 

We also discussed the refugee crisis Poland is facing. And then on Monday… war crimes that have such strong echoes of the brutal acts European communities and soldiers were capable of within living memory, just over the border in Ukraine. I don’t think I have anything profound to say, but on Sunday I was worried about my emotional resilience to make this journey. Today I am just horrified at humanity. May our learning of the past change our collective future, and help create more upstanders.

Having not used my blog for some time, this felt like a good place to track this journey a little for myself, to stash my reflections and learning, and to share with anyone interested what we see and experience. But first, there is Pesach to get through! A time when we reflect on freedom, and each year I also try to bring to our table those who do not have their own freedom. Each year I create an alternative seder plate with extra symbols that acknowledge LGBT, Uighur, and climate campaigns, prayers for peace in Israel and Palestine, and this year, a sunflower or sunflower seeds will be added.


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