When I first heard about this trip, I knew it was going to be emotionally challenging. Going to a concentration camp, visiting where the Wannsee conference happened, and going to the Holocaust museum just to name a few. There have been several moments in which my stomach was in knots because of thinking about what has happened exactly where I’ve been standing. Today in Nuremberg, we went to the Nazi Party Rally grounds, and I found myself once again full of anger thinking of how many people supported the Nazi regime. Later we went to the Munich Document Center for the History of National Socialism and learned more about how the Nazis came to power, which was especially challenging because of being able to see the parallels to today in the United States.
What I didn’t fully realize before going on the trip was also how healing it would be. At one point during the trip, we went to the Synagogue Fraenkelufer in Berlin and had Shabbat services. The synagogue had been partially destroyed during Kristallnacht, but was ultimately saved because it was attached to a non-Jewish school and they didn’t want to burn that down. Sitting in a synagogue by people who grew up in a different country than me while singing prayers that everyone there knew was a wonderful and unifying experience. Being able to watch LGBTQ+ Pride being celebrated in Berlin right in front of the Brandenburg Gate which once displayed swasticas helped me see more clearly that while there is still hate in the world, it also has the possibility to grow.
Being on this trip with two of my friends from college has been absolutely wonderful and helpful for all of the hard moments. It has also been amazing being able to meet new people and connect with more members of the Jewish community. While I have not fully been able to process all of what we have seen and experienced on this trip yet, and I am very much looking forward to reflecting on my own back at home as well as discussing these challenging topics with the rest of my Jewish family.