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Personal statements from people on our tours:

Susan Libitzky Executive Producer, “Schtick, A Gift for Laughter”:

I’ve walked the streets of Krakow and seen the pallor in the faces of old Polish women. I’ve wept at Auschwitz. I’ve stood in front of the former Lodz ghetto and held my mother-in-law’s hand as she recalled her struggle to help her family survive for five painful years.

But seeing Poland through Tad Taube’s eyes and experiencing Poland through his vision and passion was a most special opportunity to learn from experts, expand my thinking, meet exceptional people, make new friends and most of all be inspired and feel hopeful.

Just a few highlights for me:
Reciting the hamotzi at Shabbat dinner with the “emerging” Jewish community of Krakow. Tapping my feet in the front row of the Nozyk Synagogue and hearing the remarkable voices of Theodore Bikel and Alberto Mizrahi. Mingling with 1000’s of excited people while listening to “beyond the Pale” and standing in the rain in Nowry Place in Kazimierz. Tearing hunks off the warm loaf of sweet challah we were given after singing and dancing with kids at the Lauder Morasha School. Your warmth and caring, your meticulous attention to every detail, and your unending energy and sense of humor! Tad, the programs you’ve committed your substantial dollars to are contributions that are doing much to revitalize the rich legacy of Polish Jewish history and culture before the Holocaust. But your personal and human contributions will make an even more long-ranging and significant difference to enhancing the lives of the people of Poland in the coming years.

Thank you for giving us such an intimate, exhilarating, remarkable, and unforgettable experience”

Dr. Arnold Eisen, Chancellor-Elect, Jewish Theological Seminary:

“The flowering of Judaism has gone hand in hand with the flowering of democracy. Jews have historically suffered where democracy suffers and thrived where democracy thrives. This has been the historical model for hundreds of years. What is happening now in Poland is a replay of conditions that have benefited Jews and Judaism historically. It is exciting to see the interest of non-Jewish Poles in things Jewish. On the Taube Foundation’s visit to Poland we literally saw crowds of non-Jews eagar to study Judaism. If we contribute to the rebirth of the Jewish community alongside the rebirth of democracy, this is a very good bet.”

Irving Rabin, Judah L. Magnes Museum Board Chair:

“Before going with the Taube Foundation to Poland, I didn’t know if I could handle the emotional response to visiting Auschwitz. My images of Poland were of ghettos, concentration camps and pogroms. Now because of the trip, I see Poland as a cradle of Jewish life.”

Joseph Tartavkosky, associate editor, Claremont Review of Books:

“I particularly enjoyed visiting the children at the Lauder Morasha Day School - could there be a more charming indication of the revival of Jewish life in Poland? I enjoyed spending time with the group – at dinners, receptions, nd concerts --  so many intelligent and capable people in our U. S. group, and in Poland with Kostanty Gebert, our scholar-in-residence, and the honor of being with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich. Nothing, though, compares to the Krakow Jewish Music Festival…an extraordinary event, not only with spectators from around the world and the most amazing music but it also includes a wealth of lectures, discussions, and workshops! Experiencing the standing ovations is a moving experience, and one is reminded how monumental a thing the revival of Jewish culture is.”

Susan Diamond, Morgan Lewis Counselors at Law, San Francisco:

“Your tour changed my view of Poland from “mass graveyard” where my family roots are located to a country where history is triumphing. The rebirth of Jewish life is a testament to the tenacity of our culture, traditions and religion. The desire of non-Jews to explore and understand the 1000 years of contributions of Jews to Polish life…underscores the resilience of the vibrancy of Jewish life.”

Moses Libitzky, President, East Bay Jewish Community Foundation:

“Everything was a highlight, as was traveling with this very wonderful and astute group. Particular highlights were the Krakow Culture Festival and the Lauder Morasha Day School in Warsaw. Also meeting such fascinating and informed people such as Yale Reisner and Eleanora Bergman, of the Jewish Historical Institute and traveling with the Taube Foundation. Exceptional tour, the itinerary was excellent.”

Fred Silton, Los Angeles, 2007 Taube Tour participant:

“The week was full of highlights -- every day, every concert, every meeting, exhibit – all were outstanding, including meetings with so many like-minded people.”

Jeffrey Farber, CEO, Koret Foundation:

“I have been to Poland before but this was unique. Excellent itinerary. Your on-the ground presence and dedicated staff in Warsaw and Krakow gave us special access to important government leaders, events and programs. During these tailor-made visits your historians took us off the tourist track and into cities, shtetls and villages where we could meet community leaders, local historians and discover rarely seen synagogues and other historical sites. Seeing Poland like my ancestors saw Poland made it a very special experience of a life time.  Very emotional and inspiring.  I hope all Jews are fortunate enough to share this and gain this same knowledge. Please keep doing what you are doing.”

Linda Law, Chair, Freedom First Bank:

“The Taube trip to Poland was a very profound experience and I do not think it could have been any better. The entire trip was outstanding: Theodore Bikel singing in the 900 year old temple, conversations with participants, small group discussions especially with Kostek Gebert and Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Auschwitz, the children at the Lauder Morasha Day School.  It gave me a deeper understanding of our roots and more of a connection to Judaism. All in all very moving and well done.”

From Judy and Howard Saks, of Ohio:

A few words of thanks to you for opening up a special world of experience to Howard and me. Words are inadequate to convey the joy and the lasting sense of connectedness that we both feel upon our return from Kazimierz and Krakow generally. So many impressions, but the main one must be a deeply expanded sense of Jewishness, something that American Jews can cultivate only, I feel, by spending some time on European and Israeli soil. We were most fortunate to be at the Jewish Festival exactly when Hannah, our daughter, was in Israel for her birthright trip, so all of us had magic taking place at the same time.

Highlights of the Festival were many: just being in that remarkable place, throbbing with change and with Jewish feeling – not only defying 20th century history but writing a chapter for today, for the future.

Let’s see: we attended a wonderful discussion presentation by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (in the field, everyone calls her Barbara KG) and her father, Mayer, a 92-year-old (going on 65) who has painted his memories of life in pre-Holocaust Poland. Not only were his stories charming and an unusual window into a style of life long gone, but the mitzvah of her getting it all down, of valuing and preserving, resonated so clearly to all in the audience.

Our guided tour of the synagogues was extremely touching – at one point we overheard the young woman guide confide that, while she’d been doing these tours for years, she finally remarked to her own father that she was so often asked if she herself was Jewish. To which her father said to her, at age 23, “You are.” She was one of those postwar Poles whose Judaism had been kept secret from her… she made the remark, “I believe in genetic memory.” That’s the kind of moment we could not have anticipated.

Our last night in Kazimierz, at the festival, we relished a terrific performance by Oy Division, a really top-tier klezmer band from Israel. After their show, the musicians spilled into the streets, all of us joined them, and a poignant moment of freilach – with deep historical meaning – unfolded.

Thank you for the gift of these lovely moments.

Yours,

Judy and Howard


 

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