The mission, which includes five-star accommodations, will be led by Stephen J. Savitsky, OU President; Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Executive Vice President-Designate; and Rabbi Mordechai Smolarcik, a former NCSY Regional Director and Director of NCSY JOLT for the past six summers. Rabbi Smolarcik, now the rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue West, has been leading trips to Poland for both teens and adults for the past 13 years.
Mr. Savitsky declared, “We’ve been approached by many people over the years who have asked us to provide a trip to Poland. This historic trip is going to offer the OU family the opportunity to visit and truly understand the devastation caused by the Shoah.”
Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, stated, “For many years, parents have been telling NCSY how much they’d appreciate a similar experience to the one offered to teens through JOLT. This new trip is a wonderful opportunity for adults to get a taste of what their children have been experiencing and a great way to explore their heritage.”
The trip, timed to coincide with the Nine Days (which concludes the traditional three weeks of mourning the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem), will offer participants a view of the churban (destruction) Europe experienced during the years of the Holocaust. Included will be visits to once-illustrious centers of Torah study and flourishing Jewish life such as Krakow, Ger, Lizensk, Lublin, Birkenau, and Treblinka and special stops at the Nozyc Shul, Ramoh Shul, the Schindler Factory, the first Bais Yaakov school, and kevarim (gravesites) of great Torah scholars such as the Sfas Emes, Rav Chaim Brisker, and the Tosfos Yom Tov. For an additional fee, participants will also have the option of using their last day in Poland to take a day trip to a city that is personally meaningful to them; perhaps visiting the city where their mother or father was born.
Adults on the trip may see some familiar faces as NCSY’s JOLT summer trip will be traveling in Poland at the same time, though the two groups will have separate itineraries. The adults and teens will spend a spiritually uplifting Shabbat together at the Ramoh Shul located in Krakow, which will feature the famed NCSY Havdalah ceremony.
There will also be an optional Israel extension after the Poland tour from July 28-August 4, which will allow participants to spend Tisha B’Av and Shabbat Nachamu in Israel, an appropriate conclusion after witnessing the scenes of destruction in Europe.
Space is limited. For further information and to reserve a spot on the trip, contact 212-613-8374 or e-mail PolandMission@ou.org.