כ"ג אייר תשס"ח
We spend most of the day on the bus on the way to Krakow. There, we are to visit the old Jewish quarter and several old, restored synagogues. The Jewish community of Krakow today numbers some 200 souls. In the months before the Shoah, there were some 60,000 Jews in Krakow. There is nostalgia here for the Jews. It appears in the Hebrew and Yiddish signage all around the Kazmierz area – the historic Jewish section of town. In all honesty, it feels a bit like what the Jewish Quarter of the Poland exhibit at Epcot would feel like if it existed.
Prior to our arrival, we stop in Kielce. Kielce is famous for nothing Jewishly except for the fact that it is the one place where a pogrom took place AFTER the end of the Shoah and the end of World War II. That’s right – after virtually all of Polish Jewry was annihilated, while the world just started to grasp the enormity of the final solution, the residents of Kielce felt it necessary to murder forty or more Jews based on a classic anti-Semitic canard – the blood libel.
Before arriving in Krakow, we visit another Jewish cemetery desecrated by the Nazis and restored as a memorial monument. An old Polish woman, at least eighty years of age, wearing a crucifix, comes to meet us. The privilege of paying respects to desecrated Jews graves cost our group 60 zloty or about $30. The “fee” supposedly goes to maintain the site, but the way cash payment is made betrays any sense of “good” as it is palmed from our polish docent, “Tomasz” to the woman. Profiteering. I am nauseous.