Winter in Poland. It’s like being in Pennsylvania, but with less vowels.
We boarded a train leaving Warsaw, heading towards Katowice on our way to the next destination: Auschwitz. We put our bags down on a random seat to get our bearings. Neither one of us had any idea how to read the ticket for our seat assignments. I found a very nice older couple who helped me identify our correct seats, which were next to them in a private cabin. I went back to get the bags, as my grandfather sat down with Mr and Mrs Adamczyk and started conversation. I put our bags down and began taking very unnecessary pictures of the train station, not realizing I was capturing the exact moment when my grandfather discovered that Mr Adamczyk grew up on the very same street as him in Warsaw, and that this man he just met had lived in a house very close to the one my grandfather lived in (after he and his family had been evacuated from their home). Though I only understood about every fifth word, we spent the next 2 hours in conversation, from the moment the train left Warsaw Central Station until it reached the end of the line.
“A BEAUTIFUL THING”
After spending the Sabbath with the Beit Warszawa community, it came time to mark the end of the Day of Rest with the ceremony of Havdallah. 3 young girls lit the twisted candle, and we all sang prayers to usher out Shabbat. As is their weekly tradition, the group then pulled me in for some traditional Israeli dancing. We joined hands, clapped, and did a whole lot of grapevining. As my grandfather watched on the side, I could see this look on his face – something like amusement, disbelief, wonder. I could only imagine what he was thinking after the Nazis invaded his homeland, murdered his family, put him in a concentration camp, and persecuted anyone who had the audacity to believe whatever they believed. I could only imagine what he thought he might find coming back to Warsaw. At the end, he walked over to the group. “No wonder I survived Auschwitz. If I can live to see this, I can live to see anything.”
Thank you, beautiful people of Beit Warszawa, for giving us this moment.
Winter in Warsaw