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Poland Trip 2024 - Tuesday

This morning we drove to Jedbawne where we heard the story about the 1,600 Jews who lived there and were brutally burned alive by their once friendly Polish neighbors. Rosie Miller shared her great grandfather’s story, who lived in Jedbawne and moved away to a neighboring town just a few months before this murder took place.
From there we drove to Tikocyn. We davened שחרית in the shul that was built in 1642 by the Jewish families who moved there and established a community. Davening in the beautiful בית כנסת with תפילות written on the walls all around us, we felt the power of תפילות of the generations of Jews who stood there and uttered these same תפילות years before us strengthening our prayers.
We had breakfast next door and then took a walking tour led by Rav Brown of the Shtetl in Tikocyn. We read stories written by Jews who lived in the community about the flourishing Jewish life they led there. We walked along the river in which mothers would wash laundry and the children of the Shtetl would play and swim.
It was a great privilege to then hear from Ada about the story of her family who lived in Tikocyn. Her great grandparents, Rav Shlomo and Ayala, had six children, one of whom was her grandfather Eliyahu. Eliyahu and four of his sisters made Aliyah, but Rav Shlomo and one of his daughters Raiche refused to leave the community in Tikocyn, even after Eliyahu came back to try and convince them to go with him.
We drove just a few minutes to the forest where the Jews of Tikocyn, men and women, elderly and young, were taken to be shot to death by the Nazis. Ada’s great-grandfather and great aunt were among them. We read testimonies from Jews who managed to escape such shootings in different areas of the country. Ada delivered a powerful, meaningful, and moving eulogy in honor of her Saba Shlomo and Raiche ה׳ יקום דמם. May their memories forever be a blessing.
Our last stop of the day was Treblinka. In the small museum Rav Brown taught us the history of Treblinka and about the acts of evil that were committed there. From the museum we walked about ten minutes to the site of the death camp, where today stands a monument in memory of all of the lives that were taken so cruelly in Treblinka. Each of us said תהילים and lit a candle in honor of some of the many Jews who were killed there.
We learned about Janusz Korczak and, the important yet often overlooked, Stefa Wilczynska who were both murdered in Treblinka after refusing multiple offers to escape, in order to stay with the children of their orphanage. We ended our time in Treblinka by singing אני מאמין together, a testament to our triumph over evil.
After another meaningful day, we drove to Lublin where we had dinner and went to sleep for the night.
By Oriah Jeselsohn