The participants arrived in Krakow, Poland and attended an opening delegation dinner alongside concentration camp survivors and IDF “Witnesses in Uniform” delegation at the hotel together with the IDF Chief of Staff. A highlight of the evening was an emotional reunion of Holocaust survivor Miri Amir and Mirosława Gruszczyńska, the women who saved Miri’s life during the war.
The day started with a tour of the Krakow Jewish Ghetto in Kazimierz where Jews were forced to live during the Nazi occupation. The tour culminated with a moving memorial ceremony at the Ghetto square.
Next included a prayer service at Itzaak Synagogue together with the IDF Chief Cantor followed by lunch at the Galicia Museum, which commemorates the victims of the Holocaust and celebrates the Jewish culture of Polish Galicia.
After lunch, the group visited the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Krakow and learn about its significant Jewish community, which thrived from the 14th century until its decimation in the Holocaust. The group heard first-hand recounts of being Jewish in pre-WWII Poland through an in-depth retelling by survivors.
The day began with a tour of Tarnów, the town that was home to thousands of Jews who ultimately faced unspeakable suffering at the hands of the Nazis.
Next, the group departed for Zbylitowska Gora Village and Buczyna Forest to retrace the steps of many Jews, including over 800 children, who were executed and buried by the Nazis. Followed by a stirring memorial ceremony at the Children’s Grave with the IDF Delegation.
The day came to a close with a segment of moving personal testimonials by Holocaust survivors and a dinner with the IDF delegation.
The group had a very moving visit to Auschwitz 2–Birkenau. Auschwitz, a complex of several camps, was the largest Nazi killing center. Birkenau, also known as “Auschwitz 2”, was the largest and most lethal of the Auschwitz camps. Participants marched side-by-side with Holocaust survivors and IDF officers.
Survivors shared their experiences and memories of the concentration camp to his liberation. Next was a very emotional memorial ceremony in Birkenau led by the commander of the IDF delegation.
The emotionally-charged day ended with a group dinner at the hotel marking the transition from Holocaust to Independence, beginning to the inspirational journey to Israel alongside the IDF delegation.
The participants embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime flight to Israel aboard an Israel Airforce plane, accompanied by Israel’s own IAF pilots and IDF officers.
Once landed at an IDF Air Force Base, a moving “Welcome to Israel” Shabbat dinner celebrating the transition from “darkness into light” with our arrival in Jerusalem.
While some participants took a walking tour of the historic Old City of Jerusalem with an emphasis on Christian history, some took a neighborhood tour of Rehavia and Nahlaot – the tour told the histories from the British Mandate until the present day. Others ascended Masada for a breathtaking tour of the historic fortification and a visit to the Dead Sea.
In the evening, the group received an in-depth geopolitical briefing from a top Israeli military expert then participated in an unforgettable Havdalah service in the holiest city on earth.
The day kicked-off with a visit to the soldiers of the Judea and Samaria Division.
The evening was spent attending an official memorial ceremony for Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) to remember fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism at the Kotel with state officials.
The day somber day began with a memorial ceremony at Yad La-Shiryon, the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum.
In the theme of remembrance, the group visited the 9/11 Memorial, the only place outside of the United States that recognizes the names and countries of origin of the people who were killed on 9/11.
The day ended with a transition from mourning into joy and celebration as the country reigned in Israel’s 69 Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut.
The celebratory day kicked off with an incredible visit with the Kedem Search and Rescue battalion for lunch, singing and dancing with soldiers.
Next, the group visited the official residence of the President of the State of Israel, Beit HaNasi and took part in an official diplomatic reception with the president Mr. Rueven “Ruby” Rivlin and his wife Nechama as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu.
The day came to a close with a farewell dinner at King David Hotel marking the conclusion of the FIDF delegation to Poland and Israel and the journey from Holocaust to Independence.