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April 05, 2012 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-04-05

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Saturday May 19, 2012


Memorial In Lophov Forest where hundreds of Tikochin Jews were murdered.

Roots from page 16





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22 April 5 • 2012


Our trip to Auschwitz was an experi-
ence unlike any other. It poured the
entire time we were there. Although the
conditions were miserable for us, we
could not dare complain as we at least
were dressed for the weather and knew
we would be leaving shortly.
"After exiting Birkenau, we went over
to Auschwitz, where the original build-
ings are still intact:' said Elayna Zack
of West Bloomfield, a UPenn student.
"From the outside, these buildings
almost resemble a college campus; one
would never immediately assume what
tragic events took place there. As we
walked through the buildings, looking
at the various possessions that were col-
lected at the camp after it was liberated,
you could feel the misery and despair all
around you of Jews arriving at a place
they never expected.
"From the things people packed, you
knew that most people had no idea they
were coming to their death. Our final
stop in Auschwitz was the gas chamber,
probably one of the most memorable
parts of the trip for most of us. The feel-
ing of being inside is not one that can be
explained, nor is the feeling of walking
out. Here, too, our entire trip did some-
thing you were not supposed to ever do
— we all exited the gas chamber alive."
For me, the most meaningful part
was being able to visit my grandfather's
hometown of Sosnoweic, Poland. The
rabbi hired a driver to take me and
another student whose grandparents
were also from Sosnoweic to explore our
families' roots. I had addresses of build-
ings my grandfather and his family once
owned prior to the Nazi occupation.
It was an incredible experience to be
able to peer into the apartment build-
ing where my grandpa once lived before
being sent to the ghetto. As we explored
the town, I was overcome with emotion,
walking up and down the same streets
that my grandpa once traversed daily.
There is no evidence of my family's exis-
tence left there other than a single piece
of paper with the addresses written on
it. Most of the buildings are now restau-
rants and bars. We toasted our heritage
at each site as the rabbi told the bartend-
er that these properties were once ours.
Emma Soloway, an MSW candidate
at U-M, said, "At the end of our 10-day
excursion into Eastern Europe, we were

asked by our amazing rabbi to give a
three-minute spiel on what our cah-ha!'
moment was during the trip. Sitting
there in a little glatt kosher restaurant
in the middle of Budapest, Hungary
I struggled to find words that could
describe what we had been through.
"I am the grandchild of two survivors,
but sadly they passed away before I was
born. I have no stories, no pictures and
no memories that connect me to what
my grandmother Rose and grandfather
Sam experienced during the war. Their
son, my father Elliot Soloway, was told
nothing by his survivor parents. They
never spoke a word. So what did this
trip give me? What was my`ah-ha!'
"This trip gave me stories, pictures
and memories that connect me to my
past. This trip opened up the paths of
communication between my parents
and me about what it means to be the
children and grandchildren of survivors.
Not only did the trip strengthen my rela-
tionship between my past and me, but
it also created a community in which
young Jewish individuals could discuss
and explore what it means to be a part
of such a strong Jewish community in
the United States:'
This trip to Poland was unlike any
experience any of us have ever had.
Many of us, grandchildren of Holocaust
survivors, thought we knew almost
everything there is to know about the
Holocaust. This trip showed us that it's
not just the facts and figures we must
remember. It is the names, the lives, the
emotions, the passions, the ways of life,
the devotions that people felt and had.
Over the course of our trip, we didn't
just see, we felt. We pledged to remem-
ber, but also to live, to think about what
it means to be Jewish, to contemplate
our very existence, not only to honor
those who died for the very same prin-
ciples we too often take for granted, but
also to honor ourselves and the unborn
generations to come. We all came from
different backgrounds and locations and
philosophies, but we left as one family,
brought together by pain and joy, mem-
ory and hope for the future.

Alana Greenberg is a University of Michigan
graduate and current nurse anesthesia
student at Oakland University.

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