At 2:30 a.m. on 7th February thirty one bleary eyed students and three even more bleary eyed staff arrived at school ready to depart for Poland to explore the Jewish history of Krakow.
Despite the early start students involved themselves in all the activities throughout the day which included a tour of the Jewish quarter, a visit to the only remaining working synagogue in Krakow and a visit to the Schlindler museum. The day finished with a walk to the Plaszow concentration camp to see the stunning memorial there.
The second day was another early start, heading off to visit Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau. Here we had a guided tour of the barracks which have now been turned into museums, including a fantastic Shoah exhibition dedicated to the loss of Jewish life during the Holocaust. Students then visited Birkenau to learn more about the daily conditions at the death camp and to get a sense of what it might have been like for a prisoner there. After what had been a rather intense day students finished their evening in a Klezmer restaurant, listening to Jewish music and eating traditional Jewish food, a really lovely way to see that Jewish culture is still alive and being celebrated despite what students had experienced during the day.
To complete the trip, on the Sunday students visited the Galicia photography exhibition dedicated to Jewish life after the Holocaust. It was here that students were fortunate enough to listen to a survivor talk, where they learned about a parent’s sacrifice to give up their child so that she could survive knowing what their own fate would be. After an incredibly moving session and some great questions from the students we then finished the trip visiting the incredible salt mines (where many of our students ‘enjoyed’ a quick taste of the salt walls!).
Despite a delay at the airport spirits remained high when a Jewish school broke out into spontaneous song and invited our students to get involved, which culminated in singing, dancing and a bit of learning Hebrew thrown into the mix!
As always the students were fantastic and a real credit to the school, resulting in all having a really valuable experience!
Ms Jordan Whitworth
Head of Religion, Ethics and Philosophy