Today after a 3 hour drive to Lublin, we arrived at Majdanek death camp. As we walked through Majdanek, we looked at the camp through the eyes of a 13 year old girl. How a normal 13 year old would think. Through these eyes, we never saw gas chambers or death of these prisoners. We saw showers for cleansing and prisoners who were still alive - meaning that they are in a camp but they are still alive so it can't be too bad. We saw what we would call small patches of grass but big fields for a 13 year old. We came face to face with the peak of evil. How a man would spend his days killing people in the most cruel manner but then go home to father and love his children with the same hands that he murdered all those families.
We then took a 10 minute walk to the crematorium in the camp. When we walked out, we all scattered around the grass and sat, cried, and thought to ourselves as we felt the emotions of having seen what these families had been through and how their lives were taken. We thought what would happen if this was our family, how it was unfathomable to conceptualise what we saw in there. How we take being Jewish for granted since it comes so easy to us. We go to a Jewish school, we have numerous shuls in each area and there is kosher food at every shop. But these people had their lives taken just because they were Jewish.
Afterwards we went to the dome where there is a pit of human ashes. I witnessed something incredibly special and uplifting. As the South African youth delegation sat and wept, we were comforted by hugs from other youth delegations in America. This has shown me the power of the Jewish nation. We stayed in the same hotel and we know each other's names, but we barely know anything else. Complete strangers before we arrived on this trip. But when we all there to support each other, we unite as a nation. Coming from different countries around the world with the same purpose. They felt the same pain as we did. I will never forget this moment.
Our ten fingers can be used for two different approaches. We can use those ten fingers for destruction like we saw today at the death camp or we can use our hands to strengthen, to help and to bring hope. The complete opposite of the Majdanek death camp. Just like what I saw from the North American delegation.
As we leave Majdanek and prepare for the airport to go to Israel, where coming from Majdanek you would never imagine that this could be possible, I feel a huge amount of pride, excitement and accomplishment. What better way to end off this week in Poland than to go to Israel to celebrate how far we have come as a nation and to celebrate Israel's Independence Day.
AM YISRAEL CHAI.