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I feel more connected to Judaism and the need for a strong Jewish homeland than ever.

As I reflect back on my week in Poland, I realize how much I learned compared to my what I knew before. I started studying the Shoah in third grade at Seattle Jewish Community School, but I didn't really get the big picture until now. Before Poland and the ten hour class period I only got the catch-phrases of World War Two (i.e. six million Jews, gas chambers, and the Nazi party). Now coming out of the trip I feel like I can have an educated conversation with anybody about  World War Two.

When we started preparing for Poland I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was going to be cold and sad. Now looking back I realized that the trip wasn't all sadness because we were able to celebrate how the Jews were successful pre-Shoah. Poland was an emotional roller coaster with its very highs its very lows and a whole lot of twist and turns. Poland was a very eye-opening trip for me it made me see it in color it showed me how the Jews thrived before the Shoah. It also showed me the horrors of the Holocaust including sitting in the cattle car in Lodz listening to ani me ami and thinking about Ellie Wiesel's time on cattle cars.  After seeing all the horrors this trip had an absolute effect on me because I feel more connected to Judaism and the need for a strong Jewish homeland than ever. We can always say we saw each other at Sinai or celebrate Passover by talking about when we were slaves in Egypt but you can’t see that with own eyes. When we were at Auschwitz-Birkenau sitting in front of a destroyed crematorium,  I heard IDF soldiers in the background singing it and it made me proud to be a Jew. It also made extremely grateful that we have the state of Israel and an army to defend against any kind of evil.