Meet Our Volunteer - Maciej

Each month starting in January, we will share a blog post about the Volunteer of the Month featured in our JCC 2017 calendar, which is dedicated to the young adults who spend their time volunteering at the JCC to help us rebuild Jewish life in Krakow. 


Where are you from?

I'm from Krakow and studying Computer Science.

Why did you decide to volunteer at the JCC?

You could say it happened by luck, but I know it was meant to be. I had just graduated from high school and decided that I wanted to help people and participate in a volunteer project. I started searching for volunteering programs in Krakow and found out about the Volunteer Program the JCC. I was unaware there was a Jewish community here and so I thought it would be a great opportunity to both help people and learn about their culture. Volunteering at the JCC has given me a unique opportunity to learn and experience Jewish culture from inside the community.

What is your best JCC experience?

I've been volunteering at the JCC for almost three years and it's really hard for me to choose! I enjoy talking to volunteers, members and tourists and listening to their stories and sharing my own. Every time I come to JCC I learn something new. JCC feels like home, it's hard to pick the best thing about home, the most amazing thing is that it just a great place to be.

Maciej and other JCC Volunteers featured in our 2017 calendar

Maciej and other JCC Volunteers featured in our 2017 calendar

What is one of your favorite things at the JCC?

The orange couch at reception. Whenever you have to leave the JCC, you can't simply do it, because you will surely meet someone and talk to them for an hour or so and you will end up sitting on the couch discussing everything. It happens every time I come to the JCC. I believe that the fact that you can enter JCC and instantly make yourself comfortable on this couch is just great!

Maciej building our JCC Sukkah

Maciej building our JCC Sukkah

Meet Our Volunteer - Magda

Each month starting in January, we will share a blog post about the Volunteer of the Month featured in our JCC 2017 calendar, which is dedicated to the young adults who spend their time volunteering at the JCC to help us rebuild Jewish life in Krakow. 

Where are you from?

I am from Kęty, a town located 80 km from Kraków.

Why did you decide to volunteer at the JCC?

During my first year of studies, I was interested in the history of Kraków and learned more about how the Holocaust affected the city. I  decided to read books written by survivors to learn more about what happened. One day when I was searching for a place to be a volunteer, I found the JCC. I thought it is the best place to find out more about Jewish culture.

What is your best JCC experience?

After spending a lot of hours at the JCC it's difficult to choose one thing. The JCC has given me so many different experiences that will help me with my career and I have also become good friends with other volunteers, members, and staff. The JCC also gives me an opportunity to meet people from around the world and hear their unique stories.

What is one of your favorite things about the JCC?

The people and the atmosphere! People are always nice, smiling, and helpful. I like helping during Jewish holidays because this is the best opportunity to get to know the members and learn about the celebrations and traditions.

Cook With JCC Krakow!



  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter



Stir together warm milk and 2 teaspoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Add 1/2 cup flour to yeast mixture and beat at medium speed in a mixer until combined. Add whole eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in remaining 2 3/4 cups flour, about 1/2 cup at a time. Increase speed to medium, then beat in butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue to beat until dough is shiny and forms strands from paddle to bowl, about 4 minutes. (Dough will be very soft and sticky.)
Scrape dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.



Cinnamon: mix 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp of cinnamon, 1 tspn of water or oil. Add raisins if preferred
Chocolate: mix and heat 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 (3 1/2- to 4-oz) bars fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, 1/4 cup sugar


  • Line each loaf pan with parchment paper 
  • Roll out 1 piece of dough on a well-floured surface into an 18- by 10-inch rectangle
  • Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons softened butter on dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around
  • Sprinkle cinnamon mix or spread chocolate over dough
  • Roll one of rectangle to the other and then twist to form a figure 8 and fit into pan
  • Brush egg wash on top of babka 
  • Bake in oven for 40mins at 350°F



Mix 1/2 cup margarine, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour. Press it together lightly until it forms small clumps. Do not smooth out to make it feel like dough. Sprinkle on top of babka to make a crumb topping. 





  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini



Heat the oven up to 370°F. Wash the eggplants and make small holes in the skin with a fork. Place the eggplants on the aluminum foil and bake them in the oven for around 45 minutes. Eggplants should be baked until the skin starts to shrink (the skin should be thin and well baked, inside the eggplant should be well baked and soft).

Cool the eggplants, cut in two halves and take out inside with the spoon. Put the eggplant squash into the bowl, add lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and tahini. Mix all the ingredients into paste. Keep the paste in the fridge. 


GIMEL in the US

Adam-Adamah participants in front of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee

Adam-Adamah participants in front of the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee

The Adam-Adamah project, based on tikkun olam, made me think how I can change my life to find more time to do something for others. It showed me that by learning from each other we can improve the world. 
Olga, GIMEL Jewish Student Club Member

From the 11th till the 18th of September, the JCC's GIMEL Jewish Student Club traveled to the USA as a part of Adam-Adamah project. Adam-Adamah is a collaborative environmental conservation project of JCC Krakow, the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee and the Ginot Ha'Ir Community Council in Jerusalem. Adam Adamah is the result of JCC Global's Amitim-­Fellows Program which connects JCCs across the world. The trip started in Milwaukee, where the group toured the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center. They were surprised to find that some of the members of the senior club had Polish roots and could speak Polish! The GIMEL members and the seniors had a lot to share about Poland and Jewish life in Krakow. On the second day our students went on a one-day trip to Chicago, where they spent the day seeing the most remarkable sights of the city. After this relaxing beginning of the trip, the time for hard work finally began! On the third day all the participants of the Adam-Adamah project hiked through a park to admire Lake Michigan and then went to Rainbow Day Camp where they spent the day picking vegetables and tried outdoor activities such as archery and laser tag. The next day, the vegetables were placed in the food cooperative which provides food for people in need. The students helped prepare and package the food for distribution.

At the Rainbow Day Camp harvesting fresh produce for the Jewish Community Food Pantry.

At the Rainbow Day Camp harvesting fresh produce for the Jewish Community Food Pantry.

Volunteering at the Jewish Community Food Pantry in Milwaukee.

Volunteering at the Jewish Community Food Pantry in Milwaukee.

Volunteering at the Jewish Community Food Pantry in Milwaukee.

Volunteering at the Jewish Community Food Pantry in Milwaukee.

In the evening they joined a conference for young Jewish leaders, and the next day the participants of the project took part in art workshops. Divided into groups, the students were instructed to express common aspects of their Jewish identities. Later they were given a tour around Growing Power, a nonprofit organization and land trust which breeds animals and grows vegetables for sale. Later all the participants of the Adam-Adamah project had a Shabbat dinner at local JCC.

The participants from JCC GIMEL were grateful to have taken part in this project.  Here's what the event meant to them:

The final session the Adam-Adamah project was a unique experience for most of the Polish participants, and for myself as well. It was a week full of hard work and we learned a lot, we found the projects extremely inspiring and we have returned motivated to apply what we learned to help our community in Krakow. 
Asia, GIMEL Jewish Student Club Member

JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein and JCC Krakow Board Member Edyta Gawron with GIMEL Jewish Student Club members in Milwaukee

JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein and JCC Krakow Board Member Edyta Gawron with GIMEL Jewish Student Club members in Milwaukee

Read an Interview With Mundek, Our Native Yiddish Speaker!

Our friend and volunteer, an accomplished Yiddish speaker, Marc interviewed Mundek - an active JCC member and one of the last native Yiddish speakers in Krakow - about his family, his involvement with the JCC, and life before the war. Marc's grandmother, who is from Poland and is a native Yiddish speaker as well, joined us at the JCC for Shabbat dinner a few weeks ago and also spoke with Mundek in Yiddish about their lives before and after the war.



מאַרק שאָרין: ווו איז איר געבוירען געוואָרען?

מונדיק: איך בין געבוירען געוואָרען אין קרוקע, אינעם שטאָט… אין 1931, 2ער אין יאַנואַר.

מש: דאָך ווי האָט איר ייִדיש געלערנט?

מ: דאָס איז אַ וויכטיקער פֿראַגע. איך האָט געוווינט אין אַ קליינער שטעטל [נאָך בין איך געבוירען געוואָרען אין קרוקע]... 23 קילאָמעטער מיזרח פֿון קרוקע. דער שטעטל, הײסט ער נאָווע בזשעסקאָ ["Nowe Brzesko"]. פֿאַר דער חורבן, כ'האָט געהאַט 2 שוועסטערן, און מײַן טאַטע-מאַמע [וואָס האָבן אַסימילירן זיך געהאַט]. זי [די מאַמע] האָט נאָר געקענט פויליש, געדענקט אַלע די צײַטען אין פויליש… ווײסטו, אַז פוילין איז געווען אונטער מאַרשאַל פיוסודסקי ["Piłsudski"] -- [נאָר] נאָך דעם ערשטער וועלטסקריג איז פוילין געווען אָפגעשטאַנען, איז פֿריעס געווען פֿון רוסלאַנד… ס'איז נישט [קײן צו] וויכטיק. [מײַנע עלטערן, מײַן קולטור, זענען זײ געווען ײִדיש, הגם, אַז איז אונדזער אויסינווייניקסטער וועלט פויליש געווען. ס'איז] דאָך, אַז ווען איך האָט 6 יאָרן געהאַט, כ'בין נאָל אַוועקגעשליחט צו אַ חדר. דאָרט איך האָט שנעל ייִדיש געלערנט… ווען איך האָט 7 יאָרן [געהאַט], האָבן די דײַטשן [באַפֿאַלן] פוילין -- זענען זײ געווען די היטלערסדײַטשן, די פֿאַנאַטיקערס, די אַנטיסעמיטס; ס'איז די געניג צו זאָגן, יאָ? זײ זענען געווען קעגן ייִדן. ס'איז געווען אַז ווען זײ זענען געקימען, אַז ייִדישע קינדער [קענען נישט מער] לערן זיך… מיר זענען נישט קײן זייער פֿרימע געווען. מיר האָבן געהאַט אַ געשעפֿט, פוילישע קונים… [און אויך,] די זייער פֿרימע האָבן באָרדס געהאַט. ווען די דײַטשען זענען געקימען, האָבן זײ געשפילט מיט די ײִדן. [ס'איז געווען, למושל,] אַ ייִד מיט אַ באָרד, וואָס האָט געמאַכט אַ "בײנקינג" געשעפֿט אינעם שטאָט, נאָווע בזשעסקאָ. האָבן זײ גענימען אַ פֿריזער צו [גאָלן] דער באָרד. אָבער אײן האָט געזאָגט, אַז ער, דער פֿריזער, איז [אויך] אַ ייִד. [דאָך] האָבן די דײַטשן אָפגעשרײַבן זײַן געלט, און האָבן [דער געלט אויסגעטײלט] צו פוילישע קינדער. אונדזערע צורות איז געווען זײער אַ סך.


Marc Schorin: Where were you born?

Mundek: I was born in Krakow, in the city… in 1931, the 2nd of January.

MS: So how did you come to learn Yiddish?

M: This is an important question. I lived in a small town [after having been born in Krakow]... 23 kilometers west of Krakow. The town is called Nowe Brzesko. Before the Holocaust, I had two sisters and two parents[, both of which had largely assimilated]. She[, my mother,] only knew Polish, [only] read the news in Polish… You know, Poland was under Marshal Piłsudski[‘s control] — [only] after the First World War did Poland become independent, [become] free from Russia… this isn’t [too] important. [My parents, my culture, were Jewish, despite our surroundings being Polish. This is] how it came to pass that at the age of 6, I was sent off to a religious school. There I quickly learned Yiddish… When I [was] 7 years old, the Germans [attacked] Poland — these were the Hitler-Germans, the fanatics, the anti-Semites; it’s enough to leave it at that, no? They were against Jews. When they came, Jews were [no longer] permitted to go to school… We[, meaning my family,] were not very religious. We had a business, Polish customers… [Furthermore,] the very religious [ones] had beards. When the Germans came, they played with the Jews. [There was, for instance,] a Jew with a beard, who ran a bank in town, Nowe Brzesko. They had a barber shave off the beard. But someone said that he, the barber, is [also] a Jew. [So] the Germans confiscated his money, and [redistributed it] among the [town’s] Polish children. We had very many sorrows.

Come Experience The Unexpected...

Did you know that in 2015 JCC Krakow had over 80,000 visitors? This included over 160 groups from all over United States, Canada, Israel, UK, Germany, France, Turkey, Sweden, Australia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic!

JCC Krakow offers several programs for everyone to experience Jewish life in Krakow. Join Ride For The Living, visit with your synagogue or JCC for an evening of activities,  take part in an educational talk, or join Shabbat dinner.

See a list of JCC Krakow activities below on how you can get involved with the community and learn about Jewish revival in Poland. 

1) 2016 Ride For The Living

Are You Looking For a Challenge And a Meaningful Jewish Experience?
Sign Up For The 2016 Ride For The Living!

Ride For The Living is a 55 mile bicycle ride that begins at Auschwitz-Birkenau and finishes at JCC Krakow. The idea behind this transformative and one-of-a-kind experience is to start from a place of remembrance and end in a place of hope - the future of the Jewish community in Krakow. This bike ride is a great way for you to have a meaningful Jewish experience and connect with the Jewish community in Krakow - a community that exists despite all odds. 

The 2016 Ride will be on Friday, June 3rd with programming from the afternoon of Thursday, June 2nd through the afternoon of Sunday, June 5th. Besides the challenging, inspirational Ride itself, the weekend includes a tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Shabbat dinner with the Jewish Community of Krakow, and participation in the JDC + JCC Krakow program 7@Nite – Night of the Synagogues as well as other Ride For The Living events.

Questions? Email JCC Krakow at

2) Visitor Programs for Groups

Is Your Group Planning a Trip to Poland?
Choose An Activity And Get To Know Our Community!

Is your group looking for a meaningful Jewish experience in Krakow? Join the JCC for a meeting, event, or hands-on activity with our members, staff, and volunteers! 

You can choose one or more of the following programs: meeting with a survivor from the JCC Krakow community to learn about their experience during the war, talk with a student who recently found out about their Jewish roots, meeting with non-Jewish volunteers who dedicate their time to help rebuild Krakow's Jewish Community, and many more!

The JCC also offers additional programming, such as, tours, Shabbat dinner, culinary workshops, genealogical consultations, and kosher catering. 

Email JCC Krakow at to arrange your group activities.

3) Visitor Programs for Individuals

Visiting Krakow?
Stop By For an Educational Talk or Workshop!


Are you or someone you know coming to visit Krakow this month? If so, tell them to join JCC Krakow's new educational workshop program for visitors! They are hosting three events each month for Krakow's tourists to learn about Jewish life Poland.

This month you can learn about Jewish revival in Poland, hear the life story of one of the survivors, or take a pierogi cooking class. For more information see the brochure and don't forget to pass it along to your friends and family!

Email JCC Krakow at to sign up for February programming.


BY STAV ZIV ON 6/5/15 AT 5:20 PM   

The Russians’ arrival in Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 meant that Marcel Zielinski was free. But the 10-year-old’s mother and father had already departed the concentration camp on a forced march while children and sick prisoners were left behind. So with a group of children and teenagers, most older than him, Zielinski walked Krakow to search for his parents and his old home.

On Friday, the 80-year-old Zielinski embarked on the journey from Auschwitz to Krakow once again, this time on a bicycle and accompanied by his son and two granddaughters. Seventy years after he set out on foot from a camp set up to exterminate the Jews of Europe, he and about 85 others were taking part in the second annual Ride for the Living.

Organized by the Jewish Community Center of Krakow, the event is about remembering the darkest period of Jewish history in Poland, but also about celebrating the growth of a young community now flourishing in Krakow and across the country.

“I think it’s really miraculous what’s going on in Krakow,” said Jonathan Ornstein, who has been the executive director of the JCC in Krakow since it opened in 2008. “Young people are finding out that they have Jewish roots” that their families hid during the communist era that followed World War II. They are “choosing to get involved, to build this Jewish future” with others who grew up in Poland but only recently discovered their background, along with some Jews, like Ornstein, who grew up elsewhere and decided to move to Poland.

The Ride for the Living was inspired by one such English man, Robert Desmond, who met a Polish woman, fell in love and moved to Poland. Instead of flying, he decided to ride his bike from London to Auschwitz. Along the roughly 1,350-mile route through Western Europe and into Poland, he stopped at various sites commemorating World War II and the Holocaust, ending his ride at the ultimate symbol of Jewish destruction at the hands of the Nazis: Auschwitz.

Once Desmond arrived and began to get involved in Krakow’s Jewish community, where he is now one of 550 members of the JCC, “he realized that he hadn’t finished the ride, that you don’t finish in Auschwitz,” Ornstein says. “He became part of the reborn Jewish community and had the idea of finishing his ride and going from Auschwitz to the JCC, from a place of loss and a place tragedy to a place of life and light.”

So the JCC organized the inaugural Ride for the Living last June, with a small group of about 15 participants. Designed as a fundraiser, the JCC put the money from the 2014 ride toward a visit to Israel for 30 child survivors in its community. The success of the first ride convinced Ornstein and his colleagues to make it an annual event.

Zielinski, an avid cyclist who lives now in Montreal and spends winters in Florida, knew he had to take part when he heard about the second ride. He’s the only survivor to have participated in the cycling portion of the event, a roughly 55-mile trip.

Zielinski grew up an only child in Krakow. He had spent the war—which spanned more than half his life by the time he was liberated—living in a ghetto in Krakow until it was liquidated; doing slave labor at the nearby Plaszow concentration camp until it, too, was closed; and toiling at Auschwitz-Birkenau with a number on his arm. His father was in the same camp, and his mother, who arrived on a separate transport, was put in a different camp in Birkenau, where Zielinski could occasionally see her from across the fence and road that separated them.

After the camp’s liberation, Zielinski walked to Krakow, where the family living in his old home told him his parents had not yet returned from the forced march, the Nazis’ last-ditch effort to move their prisoners ahead of the advancing Russian Army. The 10-year-old ended up in an orphanage run by a Jewish committee, where his mother found him in August 1945. Zielinski would never see his father again.

Zielinski and his mother moved to a small town in southwestern Poland, near the borders of Germany and then-Czechoslovakia, and later to the larger city of Wroclaw. “As far as I can remember, I was always attracted to a bicycle,” Zielinski told Newsweek on the phone from Montreal the day before he left for Poland. “As a young teenager I rode a bike in Poland, and I rode it competitively for a while” in the mid-1950s, before he had to stop and focus on his engineering studies.

Zielinski got married to Maryla in 1957 and the following year immigrated with her to Israel, where he worked overhauling military and sometimes civilian planes, and in 1967 to Canada, where he continued working in the aerospace industry.

“From 1958 to 1980 we were busy smoking,” he jokes, explaining the disappearance of physical activity from his life after cycling as a teenager in Poland. In 1980, he and his wife both quit smoking and began running. Five years and thousands of miles later (including a marathon), Zielinski returned to his bicycle.

“Riding itself I’m not worried about,” Zielinski says, dismissing the Ride for the Living route as nothing compared to the cross-Canada ride he did in 1998 upon his retirement. “But this communicating with people and telling stories—it’s going to be emotional.”

He had returned to Poland for the first time in 2007 with his wife and son, Betzalel. “Initially it was very difficult for me to think about going back, [but] in 2007 I decided to face my past,” he says. He was anxious, especially about returning to Auschwitz, which unlike the ghetto or Plaszow is still recognizable. “Seeing the camp itself with the sign ‘Arbeit Macht Frei.’... It’s a bone-chilling experience,” he says. Other tourists in their group quickly realized he was a survivor and began taking pictures, intensifying the moment.

This time around, his son and two granddaughters, 31 and 27, will be with him, and they’ll all get to see the growing Jewish community in Krakow (the JCC was established the year after Zielinski’s 2007 visit) in addition to the camps.

“The most important thing for me is to do it...for the people who are going to ride,” especially the young people, Zielinski says. “It’s important for them to see that somebody who survived [the Holocaust] is able to do it.”

Because so much of the Holocaust happened on Polish soil, there can be a tendency by those on the outside to equate the country with Jewish death and destruction. Tourists and groups travel to Poland to visit Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau and other Holocaust sites, but sometimes overlook the budding Jewish community that began to appear after the fall of communism and is blossoming with recent milestones like the establishment of the JCC.

Befitting the ride’s underlying idea, participants were to join JCC Krakow’s weekly Shabbat dinner shortly after cycling into the city Friday. On Saturday, after havdalah (the ceremony that signals the end of the sabbath), they are invited to the fifth annual 7@Nite Festival. A partnership between the JCC Krakow and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the event opens to the public the seven pre-war synagogues in the former Jewish quarter of Kazimierz with a slew of performances and art.

The ride may have started with a tour of Auschwitz on Thursday and a ceremony at Birkenau just before setting off, but it ends with music, art and thousands of Jews and non-Jews alike celebrating a thriving new community and culture.

“Our message at the JCC is that we’re Jewish despite Auschwitz not because of it,” Ornstein says. “What defines us as a people is how we move on from tragedy. Against all the odds we are still around, [and] we remember the past but are very conscious to find balance and not drown in the past.”

The Ride for the Living symbolizes this transition from a dark past to the bright present and future, Ornstein says. “At the end of the day, [the Holocaust] wasn’t the end of the Jewish people and it wasn’t the end of the Jewish people in Krakow. We are thriving down the road from Auschwitz.”

Holocaust Memorial Day at JCC Krakow

To honor their friend Marcel Zielinski, an Auschwitz survivor from Montreal who walked from Auschwitz to Krakow upon being liberated as a ten year old in 1945, Jonathan and Ride For The Living co-creator, Robert Desmond spent International Holocaust Remembrance Day walking from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow, a trip of 70 kilometers ( 44 miles) that took them 13 hours.

"Auschwitz is so close to us in many ways - geographically, emotionally,  yet we have come so far as a community and as a people and we felt walking to Krakow, as our friend Marcel did, would help us understand and come to terms with that contrast." Jonathan said.

This week we also hosted and participated in several events open to our community members as well as the general public. It is important that we continue to remember, educate, and recognize what our community has gone through and what we want to achieve and build for the future. 

A group of JCC members traveled to Rzeszow for the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. The event consisted of a guided tour of the Jewish area, memorial prayers at the Jewish cemetery with Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler from Warsaw, a lecture about survivors and their families testimonials of survival, and a Catholic Mass with the reading of names of Poles from Rzeszow who were killed for protecting Jews.

Their day ended with a dinner with the organizers of the program and guests from the U.S. and Israel who have Jewish roots from Rzeszow.

This program was made possible by the President of the City of Rzeszow and the University of Rzeszow in conjunction with their Jewish History and Culture department.

Thanks to the courtesy of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the JCC also screened the film, "Genocide" in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.

In 1981, this film became the first Holocaust documentary to receive an Academy Award. It remains today as a chilling and heartbreaking testament to the strength and suffering of the Jewish people and tells the story of courage and heroism of those who came to their aid. The film traces the trajectory of the Nazi annexation through ghettos, camps, and prisons of the Nazi regimes while introducing the lost victims and brave heroes along the way. The film was narrated by Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor.

80 members from the Krakow community attended the event. We were happy to see that so many people had an interest to learn more about the Holocaust and are open to having a conversation on this topic.

JCC Krakow Global Shabbat - Morocco & Greece

The JCC has taken on a new Shabbat initiative - Global Shabbat! Every month we will have at least one themed Global Shabbat dinner that will include a short, interesting, and fun presentation about the Jewish community from a chosen country and a delicious meal that will feature the cuisine from that location.

Today we wanted to share two recipes from our past Global Shabbat dinners - the moroccan tabouleh and a vegan salad straight from Greece! Our community members enjoyed them very much so we hope you will too!



Prep time: 10 minutes

What you need as a side dish for 6 people.

- 7 oz fresh parsley (curly or flat)
- 1oz fresh mint
- 3.5oz (whole wheat) bulgur
- 1lb tomatoes, ripe and flavorful
- 3 spring onions
- 1/2 Cucumber
- 8 tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbl pomegranate molasses (optional, you can also get it exhausts)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (do not you use pomegranate molasses, use more lemon)
- Ground black pepper
- Salt
- Optional: pomegranate seeds

Wash the parsley and mint, lettuce out the water and pat possibly a little dry.

Place the bulgur in a large bowl or pan. Halve the tomatoes and squeeze them out over the bulgur so that all the liquid enters the bowl. Then cut the flesh of the tomatoes finely and place the pieces in a large bowl. Pour a small amount of boiling water over the bulgur so that it is just covered and let a minute or 15 to 20 are covered.

Chop the parsley and mint finely with a sharp knife. Do not chop it too fine. This can then be added with the tomato wedges. Cut the spring onions into thin slices. Halve the cucumber and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut half a cucumber then into small cubes. Both the spring onion and cucumber go into the dish.

Make a dressing of olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, black pepper and salt. Toss the bulgur with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then mix with the herbs and vegetables, along with the dressing. Mix together well and taste. Add any additional olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Serve tabouleh on a large flat dish or in a bowl and sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds on top.




Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

½ red onion
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
Cherry tomatoes
Vegan tofu Feta cheese
40 black olives
Mixed greens
1 tbsp oregano
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)


Cut Cut tomatoes in half, diceToss all ingredients together with desired amount of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, until well mixed.


Do you have a favourite recipe you'd like to share with us? Leave a comment below and get our chef inspired!

Ride For The Living Creates New Programs for Our Survivors!

The funds from the 2015 Ride For The Living went towards a year of programming for our seniors. Read about how the Ride made an impact on the senior community from Małgorzata, Zofia, and Fryda.


I have really enjoyed all the new senior activities at the JCC! One of our favorite classes was mind training. We learned several games that we can also practice at home that will help build our memory muscle. Before taking this class, we only played card games, bridge or checkers. Now, we can do challenging mind development games that strengthen our memory and awareness. Another activity that we’ve really enjoyed is English class. Our goal is to be able to converse with JCC’s visitors. This year the seniors were offered more sessions of rehabilitation class each week which are important to us. All of the activities are truly enjoyed by the seniors.

Senior University has deepened our knowledge about Jewish culture and traditions. Every student received a report card and which we all enjoy because it brings back memories of being a child in school! The professors are very friendly and having the classes at the JCC makes it easy for the seniors to attend.

Shabbat dinner is very important to the seniors and we start discussing on Wednesday who will be attending dinner that week. It has become a tradition for the seniors to sit together for the meal. Another one of our favorite traditions is when Zosia, one of our Senior Club member, explains the parsha. For some of our seniors who are not able to attend activities during the week, Shabbat dinner is very important to them because it makes them feel like they are a part of the community.



I really enjoy mind training at the JCC. These classes are stimulating and exercise our perception and intelligence. English classes are also enjoyed by the seniors and our teacher is engaging which makes it very easy to learn and understand the language. These classes help expand our abilities and has had a positive influence on us.

I really like Senior University because of the diversity of topics and classes. People can come to the JCC not only for social reasons but to also learn something new and it encourages us to read more.

Shabbat dinners are for me one of the most important events here at the JCC. Spending Shabbat with the community and with so many friends is a blessing. This is the proper way of spending Shabbat. I can’t imagine my life without these moments.

Since the beginning, JCC Krakow has been focused on the seniors and youth. The seniors are taken care of and are active in the community. We help the youth by teaching them our Jewish culture and tradition. The JCC is really valued and a source of happiness for me and the community.


I really enjoyed the mind training classes at the JCC. We were learned different games and exercises that are good for our mind and thinking. It meant a lot to us that we did it as a group so we can practice in our free time together. It’s great to these classes as an addition to the social function of our Senior Club. I like being a part of Senior University and attend all of the lectures.

I am here every week for our Shabbat dinners and I always sit with my friends from the Senior Club. The meals are delicious and I enjoy everyone’s company. I am learning English and hope I can speak with groups from abroad soon!

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Chanukah Celebrations at JCC Krakow

The JCC had a fun filled week celebrating Chaunkah! The Jewish and local community participated in Chanukah workshops, menorah lighting, sufganyiot eating, dancing, and so much more! See our festive week below!


Chanukah week kicked off with our Sunday school who learned about the story of Chanukah from Rabbi Avi! He brought with him Chanukiot, songbooks, and dreidels. The kids all received fun notebooks to write about their Chanukah experiences and acts of kindness. 



The first dinner of Chanukah was celebrated with over 100 JCC Krakow members of all ages. They gathered to light the first Chanukah candle and shared a delicious meal featuring latkes and sufganiyot.



On the second night of Chanukah, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich joined the community to light the candles. His Chanukah visits have already become an annual tradition! ‪


For the third night of Chanukah, Szeroka Street, the historic center of Krakow’s Jewish District, was lit up by the menorah in front of Krakow's Old Synagogue. Rabbi Eliezer Gurary and Rabbi Avi Baumol were joined by the community in celebration and discussion about the holiday.



Afterwards the community went to the local ice skating rink and celebrated Chanukah on ice!


Every year, the President of Poland lights a menorah with members of Poland's Jewish community at the Presidential Palace. This year Rabbi Avi attended the event and met with President Andrzej Duda. As a Chanukah gift, Rabbi Avi gave him the first copy our Children of the Holocaust 2016 Calendar. At the JCC we did a candle lighting ceremony and calendar release party with our Holocaust survivors. It was a moving celebration as the survivors spoke about what the JCC meant to them and how it reconnected them to Judaism. 


On the fifth night of Chanukah we had over 200 people join us at the JCC to light our menorah with Rabbi Avi and participate in several of our CHANUKrAkow workshops! CHANUKrAkow is our annual Chanukah celebration that is one night of multiple fun events open to our members and the Krakow community. Our choir sang Chanukah songs, Rabbi Avi led a lecture about Chanukah, we showed a film and had a panel discussion featuring Rabbi Gurary, Kasia and Hadley led a workshop on making and frying sufganyiot, Max taught participants how to make different types of candles, and our Jewish Student Club GIMEL President Mateusz and volunteer Magda played dreidel and colored paper menorahs with children from the community. 

On Saturday night, JCC hosted a PunkNuka party where our community members dressed up with mohawks, piercings, dyed hair, and leather jackets! We partied on the dance floor listening to The Ramones and a punk version of Hava Nagila. 

Kasia's Hummus Recipe

Every week we host a kosher Shabbat dinner for over 70 members of the local Jewish community and guests from all around the world. Hummus is one of our members’ favorite treats during these events and we can’t imagine Shabbat without it! If you want to bring a little bit of JCC Krakow flavor to your own house, check out this amazing hummus recipe, created by our own kosher chef Kasia.


  • 1 cup of chickpeas

  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 3 tablespoons of tahini

  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice

  • 2-3 cloves garlic

  • 0.3 cups of ice water

  • 1.5 teaspoon of sal

  • large pinch of cumin

  • water for soaking and cooking chickpeas


The day before, rinse the chickpeas and pour 2-2 ½ glasses of water in it. Let it stand overnight. The next day, drain off and dry it with a cloth or paper towel. Fry it on a dry pan or deep frying pan with soda water for approx. 3 minutes, stirring. Add 1 ½ liter (1.6 qt) of water and cook. From time to time remove the foam. The cooking time is 20 to 40 minutes, or sometimes even longer, depending on the chickpeas. The best is to try cooking when the chickpeas are very soft. Drain off. Blend it to a smooth spread. While mixing, add the tahini, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and a pinch of cumin. At the end pour the water. Blend it for the next 3-5 minutes until the top of the spread is very smooth. Put it into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it for 30 minutes. After that, hummus is ready!

Serve it with pita bread or bread, preferably on a plate and pour some olive oil. Keep hummus in the refrigerator, but it is preferable to take it out half an hour before serving. Smacznego!

Do you love hummus as much as we do? Do you have your own hummus recipe that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

Polish - Jewish Patriots

After thousands of years of war and being an occupied territory, Poland finally gained its' own independence on November, 11th 1918! The declaration was a big celebration and victory for Poles, many of whom were Jewish who served on the front line to fight and defend their country.

For many Polish Jews, the declaration of a newly independent Polish state on the 11th of November, 1918 was a dream come true. What reinforced this positive feeling was the man behind the declaration of independence, Józef Piłsudski. Widely acknowledged as a philo-semite, Piłsudski believed in the values of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Those values included religious tolerance, freedom of speech, the press, and many others that we have come to know and enjoy.  Polish Jews fought with Piłsudski during his days as the leader of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), and gladly enlisted in his Legions, which became the basis of the independent Polish army. While many Jews no doubt viewed the formation of a Polish state with some skepticism, especially with the presence of Polish ultra-nationalists such as Roman Dmowski, having Piłsudski as leader reinforced for many that this would be a Polish state that was friendly to Jews which the 2nd Republic would become during much of the 1920s and 1930s. 

Jews were enthusiastic volunteers during the first years of the Polish Republic, fighting on the front-lines in Poland's many conflicts with a myriad of neighbors turned enemies in the post-Versailles maelstrom that was East-Central Europe. Culminating with the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, the “Miracle on the Wisła” was made possible in part by Warsaw's Jewish community, the largest in Poland, who volunteered in large numbers for the battle against the Soviet Union. The Soviets never forgave Poland for their victory, and they forgave even less the many thousands of Polish Jews who fought in the battle to defend their country. 

Photo: Jewish soldiers in Polish Army with matzoth received from JDC. Suwalki, Poland. 1916-1918. JDC Archives

Photo: Jewish soldiers in Polish Army with matzoth received from JDC. Suwalki, Poland. 1916-1918. JDC Archives

Polish Jews understood that the demands of independence did not end with a declaration or even a successful military campaign, and went to vote in large numbers in Poland's first democratic elections. They formed a bloc with other minorities to ensure that their candidate won Poland's first democratically-elected President, Gabriel Narutowicz. Jews became in many ways the political front-line against growing nationalist and ultra-nationalist resentment. Their victory turned to ash in their mouths when Narutowicz fell by an assassin's bullet within a week of taking office, killed by an ultra-nationalist Pole. Despite this setback, most Polish Jews never abandoned Poland, serving in numerous governments and civil service positions throughout the Republic. 

While we reflect on Polish independence, let us also consider that this meant independence for millions of Polish Jews who had been suffering under subjugation for centuries. The independence of Poland, “Polin”, the land of Jews for millennia, was a seen as a hopeful future for a land of freedom and tolerance. 



Meshugoyim - Forging A Jewish + non-Jewish Partnership

JCC Krakow has a robust volunteer program with over 50 volunteers (most of them not Jewish) which play a critical role in the shaping our Jewish community. Volunteers go through a thorough screening process including an application, interview, test, and intensive orientation to learn about the JCC and about Jewish customs and culture. Our volunteers wear many hats; they help with Jewish holidays, Shabbat dinners, reception duties, and administrative support, and play an important part in our community-wide events such as Ride For The Living, the Jewish Culture Festival, and 7@nite – Night of the Synagogues! You will find our volunteers smiling and laughing with all of our community members and visitors every day of the week.

Our volunteers are not only active in the JCC community, but also teach about contemporary Jewish life around Poland. With our Jewish Student Club GIMEL, they created the outreach program Mifgash Educational Group. Mifgash organizes workshops and lectures for young Poles in elementary, middle, and high school to educate on both historical and contemporary Jewish life. By reaching Poles who live where there are no Jewish communities, they are reversing many stereotypes that have proliferated since post‐war and Communist Poland.

What inspired these young adults to volunteer their time at JCC Krakow? If we take a look back at Krakow between 1968 and the JCC’s opening in 2008, Krakow did not have a visible Jewish community. Jewish culture was something appreciated as a piece of the past, through cultural events with no actual Jews. When the JCC opened, young Poles who were interested not only in Jewish culture but also in helping to rebuild the community began to volunteer. 

Get to know some of our new and seasoned volunteers and find out what inspires them about JCC Krakow to volunteer!

Aleksandra, 22, Student

After learning about our volunteer program from a classmate, Aleksandra decided to get involved because it combined her desire to do do something good for the world and her growing interest in Jewish culture. Aleksandra loves volunteering at the JCC because of its unique atmosphere and for the opportunity to meet interesting people from both the local community and all over the world. She is from southern Poland and moved to Krakow for university; even though she sometimes gets homesick, she never feels that way at the JCC - it has become her new family and gives her a feeling of belonging in a new city. Aleksandra loves celebrating the holidays with the community and, to her, the JCC is simply the best place in the whole world.

Magdalena, 25

In 2009, Magda came to the JCC to learn Yiddish and quickly became friends with many of our students and volunteers. She learned about the volunteer program and she thought it would be a great opportunity to be more involved at the JCC. By spending her time as a volunteer at the JCC, she's expanded her horizons about other cultures and religions and also has met some really great people. 

Justyna, 18, University Student 

Justyna, a Krakow-native, learned about the JCC from her friends. For her, Jewish culture is rooted in the history of Krakow and in Poland. Justyna feels that Jewish life and culture is very present in Krakow, but at the same time is easily forgotten. She sees the JCC's existence as the biggest reason Jewish culture remains vivid. Being a volunteer here is the best way for her to get to know about the Jewish culture, customs, traditions and religion. Justyna is looking forward to getting to know many interesting people and hear about their unique family history. 

Weronika, 22

Weronika was introduced to the JCC by a friend who was volunteering and came to many workshops and events. Weronika decided to become a volunteer because she wants to learn and be a part of the Jewish society in Krakow through ways of community service and social work. She is looking forward to meeting new, interesting people and participating in Jewish holidays. 

Maja, 18, High School Student

After studying Hebrew at the JCC and speaking to an old friend who is a volunteer, Maja decided becoming a JCC volunteer was exactly what she was looking for! Maja wants to help rebuild Krakow's Jewish community and she thinks it is something truly beautiful that so many people want to be involved. Maja has become great friends with her co-volunteers, community members, and tourists. She also likes that is has helped her to develop her knowledge of other cultures and customer service skills. 

Eugeniusz, 28, University Student & Tour Guide 

Eugeniusz is from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine and heard about the JCC volunteer program through Facebook. Eugeniusz decided to apply to learn more about how a non-profit organization operates and to help Krakow's Jews grow their community. Eugeniusz is looking forward to developing his personal skills, learn more about Jewish culture, and meet new people who have similar interests as him.

Joanna, 20

In her first year of high school, Joanna had the opportunity to learn Hebrew. She really enjoyed learning the language and about Jewish culture. When the class ended, she still had a desire to learn more. When she moved to Krakow, a few of her friends were volunteers at the JCC and told her about the program. She went on JCC's website to found out more information about the program and told herself " You should definitely apply!" and she became one of the volunteers! Being a volunteer gives her the chance to learn Judaism and practice her Hebrew which she is continuing to learn at the JCC. Wholeheartedly, Joanna is hoping to develop and grow as an adult during the time she spends at JCC. She is looking forward to meeting new people, make new friendships and extend her knowledge of Jewish culture.

Katarzyna, 23, University Student of Russian Philosophy

Katarzyna learned about the JCC during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. When she got home, she looked at JCC Krakow's website and read about the volunteer program. She decided to apply to enrich her knowledge of Jewish culture and contemporary Jewish life. Katarzyna is looking forward to volunteering at the JCC and expanding her personal interest in Judaism. 

Eliza, 40, Tour Guide 

While guiding a year ago, Eliza's tourists wanted to visit the JCC and learn more about Krakow's Jewish community in Krakow. That's when she learned that she could be a part of the JCC community as a volunteer. She has always been interested in Jewish culture since she was in high school. To her, the JCC is one of the best places to learn about Judaism, Jewish life in Krakow, and Jewish culture. It has also helped her to be a better guide for her Jewish tourists. 

Anna, 22, University Student of Computer Science

Anna learned about JCC's volunteer program through the JCC's Facebook page. She decided to become a volunteer because helping at the JCC would be a wonderful chance to meet new people, hear their stories, gain practical knowledge about Jewish religion and culture, and to learn new skills. It is because of the JCC's atmosphere and environment that Anna has signed on for another year. The JCC is filled with fantastic and inspiring people and she is glad that she is also a part of this community. 

Yom Kippur 2015

Pre Yom Kippur Meal at JCC Krakow

Pre Yom Kippur Meal at JCC Krakow

During the 10 days of reflection between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we look back on what has happened in our lives and how we want to change ourselves in the coming year. The JCC continues to reflect on its programing and community work in order to help strengthen and build Jewish life in Krakow.  Community members joined together on Tuesday evening for a pre-Yom Kippur meal before attending Kol Nidre services. Exchanging stories from the summer and making new connections was a great way for the community to begin the start of the new year at the JCC. Services were held at Izaak Synagogue and led by the Rabbinic Representative of the Chief Rabbi in Krakow Rabbi Avi, Chief Rabbi of Galicia Rabbi Gluck and Chief Rabbi of Krakow Rabbi Gurary to a congregation of 150 people. Many of JCC Krakow's members reminisced on family memories and looked forward to another year building community. 

Zofia Radzikowska, senior club member, was happy to have the three Rabbis leading services this year. She enjoyed hearing all the Rabbis' voices and davening with them. Growing up Zofia did not attend services with her family, it was only the past 25 years that started to go to shul. For her and many others, being in Izaak Synagogue (built in 1644) gave her a connection with the past that created a beautiful and enriching experience.  

The Izaak Synagogue in Krakow

The Izaak Synagogue in Krakow

Sławek Pastuszka, a member of GIMEL Jewish Student Club, also enjoyed reflecting on the Jewish history that took place at the synagogue. Looking around and seeing the Hebrew writing painted on the walls reminded him of the importance of tradition that he learned from his grandparents. His grandparents always felt Yom Kippur was not only a time for self reflection but also a day of remembrance for friends and family who did not survive the Holocaust. Sławek remembers seeing his grandfather wearing all black and his grandmother lighting candles in memory of those who passed. It is from those moments that Sławek understood the importance of Jewish tradition and carrying on the legacy of his grandparents. Yom Kippur to him is not only a time of looking within but also a time to look around him and be a part of the community. 

The JCC is looking forward to the year ahead with the local Jewish community and meeting new friends from around the world. 

Can't Make it to Poland for Ride for the Living? Join A Satellite Ride!

JCC Dallas Indoor Ride for the Living Promo

JCC Dallas Indoor Ride for the Living Promo

As over eighty participants from around the world join us in Poland for the Second Annual Ride for the Living on Friday, June 5, 2015, six other communities will also be cycling along with us! 

Can't come to Poland but want to get involved? Do you live in or near Columbus, Baltimore, Dallas, Palo Alto, Boston or Miami? Join a satellite Ride for the Living event and cycle alongside us in Poland as we depart the iconic Birkenau gate towards hope and the future at JCC Krakow!  

Event details for each participating community are listed below. Want to create a satellite Ride for the Living event in your community? Contact Jessica Rosenberg, Director of External Relations at for information on a 2016 satellite event.  


JCC of Greater Baltimore
3506 Gwynnbrook Avenue
Owings Mills,  MD 21117

Friday, June 5:

- 8:30am-9:15am
- 9:30am-10:15am 

Sunday, June 7:

- 8:00am-8:55am 
- 9:05am-10:00am 

To reserve your bike, go to: 


Ride for the Living Spin Classes:
Friday, June 5th
All Spin classes at the Greater Boston JCCs will be dedicated to Ride for the Living.  


Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus
1125 College Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43209

Ride for the Living Spin Classes:
Friday, June 5th
6:00 - 6:45 am with Jon
10:30 - 11:15 with Erin

Non-members are welcome to join the ride


Jewish Community Center of Dallas
7900 Northaven Road
Dallas, Texas 75230

Friday, June 5th
9:00 - 9:50am Indoor Ride for the Living Spin Class
9:50 - 10:15am Discussion with the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich 

Palo Alto:

Oshman Family JCC
Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life
3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Friday, June 5th
Open to non-members



Michael-Ann Russell JCC
18900 NE 25th Avenue
North Miami Beach, Florida 33180

Ride for the Living Spin Class:
Sunday, June 7th
9:30 - 11:30 am 2 hours
Open to non-members

JCC Krakow Holocaust Survivors Trip to Israel - Day VII

Frida and Małgosia, the JCC Krakow Senior Club Coordinator tired but happy after the week long visit.

Frida and Małgosia, the JCC Krakow Senior Club Coordinator tired but happy after the week long visit.

Good morning Tel Aviv!

We woke up to the smell of the sea and the feel of the Tel Aviv sun streaming into our rooms. Our last day in Israel and the weather was perfect.

Frida at Shuk HaCarmel

Frida at Shuk HaCarmel

We checked out of our hotel and began our day at Shuk HaCarmel and the Nachalat Binyamin arts & crafts market where we picked up presents for our friends and family back home. The shuk was an explosion of color, taste, sound, smell and even touch- what felt like thousands of people in a very small place.

Our group in the Independence Hall.

Our group in the Independence Hall.

We left the busy Shuk and headed over to Independence Hall on beautiful Rothschild Blvd, the place where the State of Israel was declared on May 14th, 1948. We learned about the period leading up to the declaration and how the nascent state had to defend itself when attacked as it came into existence. Our guide was very excited that we were a Jewish group from Poland and they told us how many of the leaders of the state in her early days were Poles. (as if we didn't know!)

Enjoying the Tel Aviv sun.

Enjoying the Tel Aviv sun.

After Independence Hall we said something that was in short supply during our week in Israel-free time. Some of us went for walks, others did some shopping or saw family members living in Israel and one of us even went to visit her  former nanny whom she hadn't seen since 1964!

Our final activity in Israel was a walk along the beach by the port, an area that has become a popular destination for Tel Avivians and we could see why-cafes, shops, restaurants and a beautiful boardwalk.

Saying goodbye to Tel Aviv and Israel.

Saying goodbye to Tel Aviv and Israel.

 As we watched the sun set and felt the last of its warmth on our faces, we thought about our week in Israel and saw her history reflected in our own lives. A story of survival against the odds, a story of hope, and a story of the resilience of a land and of a people.

Whether or not we visit Israel again, she will always be with us. And we with her.

JCC Krakow Holocaust Survivors Trip to Israel - Day VI

Our time In Jerusalem was drawing to a close but we had a few more things to do before our bus took us to Tel Aviv. We left our hotel and drove to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet our friend, Ami Mehl, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for the Diaspora and upcoming ambassador to Ghana.

Ami warmly welcomed us in his perfect Polish and brought us into the beautiful building which houses the ministry. He told us about his service in Poland beginning in 1989,  his time as ambassador to Uzbekistan and also updated us on the situation of Jewish communities around the world.  We really had a pleasant surprise when the previous ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner stopped by to visit and chat with us as did former Israel cultural attache in Poland, Yaakov Finkelstein. What an honor for our group to be received by such esteemed diplomats.

After seeing our old friends at the Foreign Ministry we stopped by a few scenic spots on the way out of town and bid farewell to Israel’s capital.

Our first stop in Tel Aviv was actually in Yafo where we ate lunch and walked around the beautiful port area. Imagine our surprise when a couple taking their pre-wedding photos in scenic Yafo saw that we were Holocaust survivors and asked to be photographed with us. We happily agreed and wished them well!

After Yafo we drove to our hotel in the center of Tel Aviv and checked in and had dinner. After dinner we had a meeting to sum up the trip since tomorrow we fly back to Poland. We all gathered and told about our impressions of Israel and the time we spent together. Many of us expressed our thanks to Ride for the Living and its supporters and participants for making this trip possible and to the JCC for making it happen. One of us even told how she never thought she’d see Israel and she knows this was her last opportunity to do so. We made plans to all meet soon in the JCC to see photos and film from our trip.


We’ll be sad to leave but we still have one more day in sunny Tel Aviv…

JCC Krakow Holocaust Survivors Trip to Israel - Days IV & V

Incredibly excited and moved to be together at the Kotel

Incredibly excited and moved to be together at the Kotel

After an intense three days, we were all too happy to spend a restful Shabbat in Jerusalem. We all did our own thing, whatever each of us needed to recharge his batteries-some rested, some met with their kids living in Israel, and some chose to wander Jerusalem’s mystical streets.

We met again in the evening for a special Havdalah with our friend, Rabbi Boaz and we ushered in the week with song.

Wandering around the Old City.

Wandering around the Old City.

It’s a good thing that yesterday was the day of rest because today was full of joy, wonder, and emotion. We drove to the Zion Gate for our first visit to the Old City. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we walked the ancient streets with our guides as well as Rabbis Avi and Boaz. Rabbi Boaz was raised in the Old City and shared some of her hidden secrets with us.
After seeing King David’s tomb and the Cardo, we descended the steps to the Kotel, resplendent in the late morning sun.

Being in Judaism’s holiest site inspired some of us to pray and some to place notes in the cracks of the wall, hoping our private wishes would come true.

Pani Zosia heads to the Kotel along with the rest of the group.

Pani Zosia heads to the Kotel along with the rest of the group.

We had a yummy lunch at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel and then we drove in the early afternoon to Yad Vashem for what was sure to be a powerful experience. Our guide, Ewa Lutkiewicz spoke perfect Polish and was extremely knowledgeable. 

As you might imagine, visiting Yad Vashem is particularly difficult for Holocaust survivors but we were glad to be there nonetheless. For many of us, saved by non-Jewish Poles, visiting the Garden of the Righteous which commemorates their heroism was the highlight of our trip to Israel so far. 

Anna paid honor to the Righteous Among Nations that helped her survive.

Anna paid honor to the Righteous Among Nations that helped her survive.

We were honored to be hosted after our tour by educators and guides from Yad Vashem who asked us to  tell them our stories so that they might live on and be passed to the next generation. It wasn’t easy and tears were shed but we emerged feeling strong, united, and proud that we were able to help. 

Our group with educators and guides from Yad Vashem.

Our group with educators and guides from Yad Vashem.

We left Yad Vashem saddened by the terrible loss but knowing that our stories of survival belong to the whole Jewish world and mirror the story of the Jewish people: Against all odds, we not only survive but thrive.


JCC Krakow Holocaust Survivors Trip to Israel - Day III

Our group at the Masada joined by Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress.

Our group at the Masada joined by Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress.

Today we got really, really high and then as low as you can go. We left Jerusalem and headed east to the incredible fortress of Masada. Most of us took the cable car to the top but Jonathan and Asia hiked up the Snake Path. Happily, they made it up alive and we all met on the top. Laurence Weinbaum, of the World Jewish Congress, who helped organize our trip to Masada joined our group and told us about WJC and its important role in the Jewish world.

Krystyna and Pani Zosia at the Masada.

Krystyna and Pani Zosia at the Masada.

Pani Zosia and Laurence have been friends for years 

Pani Zosia and Laurence have been friends for years 

After Masada we hopped back on the bus for the drive to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth. The sun was shining as we put on our bathing suits and went into the water. From the first-timers among us there were cries of disbelief as we floated around in the salty, mineral laden water. We took some great photos and even covered ourselves in mud!

Jan, enjoying the breeze at the Dead Sea for the first time.

Jan, enjoying the breeze at the Dead Sea for the first time.

As the sun began to set we hurried back to our hotel for Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner. Rabbi Avi and his wife Hadley came and met us and led us in an inspiring Kabbalat Shabbat and discussion.

Shabbat dinner was great but of course we all missed Kasia’s cooking at the JCC!
Tomorrow we will rest, it’s been a very busy few days and Shabbat is here just in time.