Friday was a very emotional day. We began our day with a visit to the destroyed synagogue in Tarnow. This city, once home to a vibrant to the Jewish community is now, but a relic of the past. Standing in the shell of the former Great Synagogue of Tarnow, one can get a sense of the grandeur of the building that now only features a lonely Bimah.
In our time together in the destroyed synagogue, we heard several stories about the former Jewish residents of this town and the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis to the Jewish populace. Following our song leader, Eric Hunker’s emotional tribute to Holocaust survivor and BBYO friend Bib Gemeinde, we sang together bringing some light back into this now dark town. 

From the center of town, we drove to this beautiful and serene forest, where our kids heard of the terrible events that occurred there. Many of our kids were shocked to hear that such a beautiful sight could possibly host such tragic events. There we read a letter from a parent to a child who was forced to give her child away for her safety. After singing a beautiful nighttime melody in honor of the children who are buried in that mass grave, the teens received the letters that you wrote for them. While it was a very emotional conclusion to the visit, they truly appreciated having a connection from home at that difficult time.   

From there we drove to Lublin for Shabbat, which was incredible. We became the first MOTL delegation to ever spend Shabbat in Lublin. I can’t help but think how long it has been since Shabbat has been observed there, and for us to bring Shabbat back to this bastion of Jewish academia and scholarship is truly inspiring. 

Our teens really took the lead on Shabbat services. From candle lighting to Havdallah our teens led services, sang spiritedly, and engaged in meaningful conversation and reflection. There were so many great moments that it is hard to highlight only a few of them. 
Our tour on Shabbat afternoon was absolutely fascinating as we visited the former site of the Jewish ghetto, the Grodzka gate, and site of the former great synagogue of Lublin. 

Please enjoy some quotes from our teens below.
“In order for there to be light there has to come darkness. I found my light after the darkness with the people on this trip at Shabbat tonight.” ~ Lauren Levy 

“Ending Shabbat with the BBYO delegates this evening was truly inspiring after a day of touring Lublin, in a beautiful town with a tragic history. I am truly aware of how powerful it can be to surround yourself with teens who shared the same passions though having different histories. Tonight, I was reminded that we have the power to change the world even if it’s just a small change and I am eternally grateful for that.” ~ Shayna Moses 

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