Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Day in Jewish Studies

Hello all. Today proved to be filled with a lot of learning, fun times, and a few very sad moments. All of us from the Holocaust class began our day with a field trip- we met our professor at 12:30 near a bus stop across town. She took us many places, beginning with the Old-New Synagogue, then heading to the Jewish cemetery, the Jewish museum, and two more Jewish synagogues. The day was simply fascinating. Our professor is proficient in Jewish history and Jewish life and she was able to walk us through all of these places explaining everything. The Jewish museum was where I had the most difficult time during the whole field trip- on most of the walls, the names of 80,000 victims of the Holocaust were written in alphabetical order. As I walked around reading the names, hardly able to take in what I was seeing, my ears picked up the sound of a beautiful and incredibly sad voice singing something I could not make out. The professor then explained that a man was singing the names of all of the victims- every single one. It was going to take him a week. Goosebumps went up and down my body and I held back the tears that were forming. Learning in a classroom is one thing; being given a visual is something unknown to me and entirely inexplicable. None of these places allowed pictures to be taken so, unfortunately, my words will have to be good enough to explain what I saw (and I know I cannot do it justice but I shall try). The synagogues were each filled with unbelievably beautiful carvings placed everywhere the eye could see. The ceilings were ribbed and some had gold painted everywhere. The cemetery had some of the oldest tombstones I have ever seen, each right next to each other, spread out across a huge amount of space. All of these places were incredibly rich with history- every time we were somewhere new, I would do one of my favorite things- step back, breathe deeply, remove myself from everyone around me, and pretend I could see the on-goings of hundreds of years ago; I pretend I can see the people, hear them speak, and watch them move. The history surrounding me is truly breathtaking and I am amazed by it each day I am here. On another incredible note, the president of UNR happens to be in Prague and he happened to accompany us on this amazing field trip and I walked right up to him and introduced myself. He and his wife were so pleased to meet me- they were incredibly kind and wanted to know all about me; he asked me to stop him and say hello if I ever see him on campus. It was so great. After the field trip, Julia and I departed from the group and found the Charles University store where we both purchased a t-shirt! She and I then found Cafe Slavia, a place recommended by USAC, where I ordered a chocolate milkshake- it was delicious. We then headed home and I am about to buckle down and do some serious homework. It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime day and I am so thankful for it. Again, I apologize for the lack of pictures. Love to all.
This is one reason I absolutely love this city- you can walk into the most random bands playing for everyone on the street. This one was very folksy and quite good.

Cafe Slavia- an elderly man was playing the piano very well.

Beautiful Julia as we sat in the cafe!

My yummy milkshake