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My name is Michael Rubenfeld and I'm a Jew from North America who's now living in Poland and this is a video that I call advice for Jews visiting Poland Now if you're a Jew and you're coming to Poland for the first time you're going to do as all the Jews do What's number one on your list? Oh? Yes, you must go to Auschwitz It's important to go to Auschwitz we as Jews must go to Auschwitz and never forget never forget never forget Yes, we Jews like to come to Poland to feel sad and yes, it's important We have to mourn what we've lost however Don't just come to mourn don't just come to feel sad because if you do You're going to leave and you're going to not want to come back to Poland But you need to understand that Poland is an amazing country.
It's got a growing Jewish community and you need to spend some time with it in Warsaw and in Krakow there are Jewish community centers If you don't know where they are look them up find them and go to them my personal favorite is the Warsaw JCC on Sunday morning you can go for an incredible vegan breakfast Warsaw JCC is incredibly open has constant Programs for people go and visit tell them that you're a Jew it's your first time here.
You'd like to talk to somebody Etc etc etc do it you'll be happy that you do even contact the Warsaw or the Krakow JCC Before you come and they will take care of you go to a cemetery go to a few cemeteries You might be thinking why a cemetery what's so great about a cemetery well Let me tell you the thing that I like the most about Jewish cemeteries You can see that there are Jews who lived and died full lives in Poland That was the common experience for Jews not the Holocaust Jews were living and loving and happy to be living in Poland and the place that you can see the most evidence of that is actually in Cemetery's and Warsaw there's the Okapowa cemetery.
It's my favorite cemetery It has been used for hundreds of years, and it's still being used today You can really feel the continuation of the Jewish life cycle in Poland And it can help you get into the mindset that for Jews Poland is not just the Holocaust It was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years of vibrant life that ended Tragically in six years of misery, but don't just let the misery of the Holocaust Fully control your visit to Poland go to a service there are several functioning Jewish communities that do regular Shabbat services, and you can go and visit even if you're not religious even if you never go to synagogue There is something very special I find about going to a service being amongst Jews who are living their normal regular Lives in Poland.
They'll be very happy to welcome you even if you don't know the prayers Just go and sit and be amongst Jewish life Jewish life still exists in Poland And it's growing appreciate that miracle Appreciate that there are Jews who want to live in Poland right now who love Poland and they don't want to leave Poland.
They're happy being there talk to them about why they'll be happy to share that information With you you might see some things that you think are anti-semitic, and I want you to know that they're not anti-semitic Well, it depends on your perspective on anti-semitism If you are in Krakow you might see symbols like this and you might think oh my god Oh my god, Poles are anti-semitic just as I thought just as I thought that's not really what's happening So this is a weird thing to wrap your head around it took me a while But in Krakow there are two football teams that mean soccer and one of the teams is called the Jews The reasons for that are too complicated to get into but they don't have anything to do with actual Jews That's problematic, but it's not as problematic as you think because you will see stars of David crossed out and you'll think oh my god They want to get rid of the Jews No These are just people from the opposing football team who hate the other football team and so they cross out stars of David With graffiti because they are against that football team.
It has nothing to do with Jews. They probably have never even met a Jew I know it's confusing. It's weird, but don't worry Poland is very safe for Jews and that might be a surprise for you because that's not what you've been taught That wasn't what I was taught either. But when I came to Poland, I realized that it's true. Trust me I'm a Jew and on Jewish holidays. I walk around with my kippah on the street. No one bothers me.
Nobody cares You might discover that some of the Jewish cultural institutions are not actually run by Jewish people Yes in North America, that would be weird The Jewish culture festival is run by a non-jewish person and it's the most popular Jewish event in Poland in the year People who are working in Jewish culture don't necessarily see Jewish culture and Jewish memory Autonomous from Polish memory.
So a lot of people are trying to get closer to their own identities as Polish people There are many Polish people who miss Jews There are many Polish people who recognize that the absence of Jews is also a gap in the collective Polish identity I personally think it's a pretty incredible thing that there are this many non-jewish people working in Jewish culture It's one of the reasons I felt comfortable Coming to Poland there are probably more non-jews working in Jewish culture than actual Jews It might seem weird to you, but try and understand it from the Polish perspective. That's all for now I hope you come to Poland also look me up.
I'll be happy to show you around.