July 9, 2012
Today was a transit day. Thanks to Magda who arranged our train from Krakow to Warsaw, met us at our hotel, arranged taxis, and sat with us on the train to ensure that we knew which Warsaw station to disembark.
Marci, Shayna, Magda
We have one night in the very fancy Bristol Hotel in Warsaw.
Free gourmet chocolates. I'll take 7, please.
We grabbed a quick sushi lunch, which was a treat. We’ve resisted sushi so far, fearful about how far the nearest ocean might be.. When we saw that this restaurant was charging $8 per sushi, we knew it was the real deal. Expensive but really good.
Helise met us and we walked to her offices, learning about the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, the destruction of WWII and its reconstruction.
The Warsaw Ghetto border
On the left, Helise's office (former site of the Great Synagogue.) On the right, the Jewish archives.
The Jewish Archives, Warsaw
We encouraged Helise to read the blog and told her that we mentioned her a lot. Just in case we haven’t: Helise. Helise. Helise. Helise.
Helise’s husband, Yale (and that does count for another Helise mention) runs the genealogy center and we spent some time with Anna who worked the computerized records of Jewish residents to locate the name, birthday, and birthplace of Marci’s great great grandfather. This was very exciting….not only because it was a brand new generation (of old) that we’ve identified but also because I learned how to search eastern European Jewish records on the web. So much for all those other projects on the list. Good news: we located another ancestral town. Bad News: Its in Ukraine and we just left Ukraine. Good News: Its on the other side of Ukraine (with two towns from the Dollinger side) so we wouldn’t be able to visit anyway. Helise said we’d just have to visit on our next trip.
Helise then toured us to the construction site of the new Museum of the History of the Jews of Poland, an INCREDIBLE building with stunning architectural design that fills nearly an entire city block. It will open next year and will be a critical cultural and historical institution in Warsaw civic life, not to mention Polish Jewish life.
Helise in front of images of the Museum
As if that wasn’t enough, Helise and Yale hosted us for a wonderful dinner at Rambam, Warsaw’s kosher restaurant. We met Helise and Yale’s daughter, Nitzan, one of the community’s rabbis, as well as a USY youth tour traveling from Poland to Israel, as well as….well….just a whole lot of Jewish people, most of whom are Orthodox, who gather there to eat just as it quickly becomes a social center for Warsaw’s Jewish community.
Tomorrow….Bialystok, home of my Zadie’s family, by way of Treblinka concentration camp….what a day!