Whilst spending time at the Galicia museum we eavesdropped on a conversation happening at the table behind us! Jacob the Director of the Galicia museum was speaking to an American couple and because they spoke English we totally listened into their chat and then introduced ourselves (that's chutzpa!) and arranged a meeting for later on today. The couples names were Marla and Jay Osborn and they are Holocaust researchers with the most incredible links to Ukraine and other organisations in the US and Paris.
Marla is on the Board of Directors of Gesher Galicia, an organisation really focussed on the area of Galicia (former South East Poland and West Ukraine) as Marla's family originally came from that area. In Marla's family's home town of Rohatyn, they organised a project to gather the headstones from Jewish cemeteries which the Nazis had used as building blocks and paving stones. This is such an important project as it is important to remember that thousands of Jewish people lived in these areas and their story has to be commemorated and respected. We also talked about research carried out in the Ukraine by a Catholic Priest called Father Patrick Dubois who researched the mass murder of people, who were shot into mass graves. Research now suggests that between seven and eight million Jewish people were murdered in the Holocaust.
|Marla and Jay|
We also interviewed Jonathan Ornstein today, Director of the Krakow Jewish Community Centre, and that was extremely interesting as he gave us perspectives on Holocaust education that we are not overly familiar with; a focus of Holocaust education has to be on the revival of Judaism in Krakow and the positive messages of the strength of the human spirit.
|Jonathan Ornstein and us|
We also met an Australian couple from Sydney called Helen and Ahron who we sat with at the communal Friday night Shabbat dinner that Jonathan invited us to (t'was lots of fun!). Afterwards we went for drinks and hot chocolate with them, we talked about everything from love, heartbreak, Israel, the Holocaust and Paris. It is so incredible the people that we are meeting on our travels and everyone is so interesting and supportive of what we are doing, it's really special.
Tomorrow we are going to Auschwitz, the largest death camp created by the Nazis. Estimates are that 1.5 million people died there. It is going to be harrowing, to say the least.
We will write more tomorrow.