Sunday, March 17, 2013
Our last day. I began my morning by strolling along the beach beside the Mediterranean. I knew that would be leaving soon and had to soak in as much of it as I could, to take a little bit of that old world with me to my home.
We started out by going to the Ghetto Fighter’s Kibbutz, an archive that was established in 1949 with the establishment of the first kibbutz there.
Most of our time was spent in the Treblinka Hall, which, as one person in our group said, was like laying out evidence against the Nazis for the crimes they committed.
Two things really struck me about the archive. The first was how well they worked the reverse of what the Nazis had done. The Nazis were about dehumanizing the Jewish people, and the archive illustrated some of the ways that they had done that.
Conversely, the museum has humanized the victims as well as the perpetrators. As our guide said, it’s important to remember that these were not monsters who did these horrible acts, but people.
The other things that struck me was the scale model of Treblinka that dominated the room. It was hard to look at it and reconcile that just a week ago I was standing in that spot there, where the train platform was, where the barracks were. It brought home to me why Birkenau seemed more powerful than Auschwitz to me. Somehow I feel more there.
After that, we had a short visit with some soldiers at an IDF base. They were so young, and so responsible. In some ways it felt like a frat house, but also a unique world of security that I think we as Americans fail to fully grasp. I’m not sure that we need compulsory service, but perhaps if it were a reality more people would take interest in the country beyond just fearing what seems different.
We finished our day in Tel Aviv, discussing the history of the city, which means something like “New Old Town,” and took a walking tour of Jaffa, which once upon a time was the major port of Israel.
According to Michael it was from there that Jonah set out for his adventure with the whale. It no longer is as vital a city, but has a vibrant art scene.
And then it was time to bid Michael goodbye and head to the airport. It was with a heavy heart that I left, because Israel is a beautiful world, and I loved being in Poland despite the heavy nature of our tour.
Still, I am more than ready to be home.