2023 Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

June 18, 2023 - June 26, 2023

June 18, 2023 - June 26, 2023:

2023 Seminar is FULL! If you would like to be considered for the 2023 waitlist submit your application soon!

Comparing Poland yesterday and today based on daily themes such as a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland; dilemmas surrounding life and death and bearing witness; and personal reflection and soul searching are just a few of the ways teachers will focus on the history of the Holocaust.


2023 Seminar is FULL! Taking Waitlist Applications ONLY.

Comparing Poland yesterday and today based on daily themes such as a thousand years of Jewish life in Poland; dilemmas surrounding life and death and bearing witness; and personal reflection and soul searching are just a few of the ways teachers will focus on the history of the Holocaust. Accompanied by a Holocaust survivor, teachers will view Poland, its people, its government and socioeconomics in unique ways that will increase their understanding of the value of diversity and the results of prejudice. This experience is powerful and life changing. It offers a distinctive view of the history of Poland, its current position in global relationships and how genocide remains a reality today in third world countries.
In advance of travel, teachers will engage in 5 pre-departure workshops that will focus on relevant topics designed to give them baseline knowledge and information to create context for the seminar. As a follow-up to the seminar, teachers will meet for 2 workshops to share the instructional materials that they designed for their students and to further reflect on their experience. Teachers are eligible to receive 3 Act 48 Credits or 90 Act 48 hours of continuing professional education through Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3 for a minimal fee. Teachers will also receive a Resource Book especially compiled for the seminar that includes timelines, maps, historical documents and statistics as well as thematic articles relevant to each day's activities. It also includes site specific articles that offer additional information that teachers can draw from as they develop unit and lesson plans for their students. Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland immerses teachers in Poland and its culture and thus Poland becomes an interactive textbook supported by the knowledge and skills of a highly qualified scholar and personal travel guide. Although the seminar answers many questions that students of history pose, numerous other questions are raised by virtue of the mini-lectures and follow-up discussions.

Some of the questions raised by this seminar are:

  1. Why were the Germans the main perpetrators and why were the Jews the main victims?
  2. What was the role of antisemitism, prejudice and racism during the rise of the Nazis and how did it lend to their ability to implement the Final Solution?
  3. What kind of leadership evolved among the perpetrators and the victims and what were some of the dilemmas they faced?
  4. How did the relationship between Jews and Poles before, during and after the War impact their mutual perceptions and roles in the Holocaust?
  5. How diversified was Jewish culture in Europe on the eve of World War II? How did this manifest itself religiously and politically in Poland?
  6. What lessons does the Holocaust teach us for the future and how can we implement them?

The major purposes of this seminar are to:

  1. Examine and discuss how and why the most civilized nation in Europe attempted to eliminate the Jewish people
  2. Understand the dynamics of how a totalitarian regime operates
  3. Define the moral and ethical dilemmas facing both the victims and the bystanders in the Holocaust and identify the lessons learned
  4. Study the pre-World War II interrelationships between diverse cultures in Europe, utilizing the Jewish model as a key empirical case.
  5. Compare and contrast the dilemmas of diversity in modern Europe with what is happening in the United States today
  6. Examine the characteristics of Polish and Jewish culture, their cross-fertilization and interaction from the beginning of the modern era until today
  7. Enable educators to create classroom programs, activities, unit and lesson plans that will reflect the knowledge and experience they have acquired so that their students will be more informed about the causes and outcomes of the Holocaust
For more information, please email [email protected]



2023 Poland Personally Seminar

Arrival in Sunday, June 18: Warsaw (Flights leave US on June 17th) Arrival and check-in at hotel: Opening Dinner Overnight: Warsaw
Monday, June 19: Warsaw
  • Theme of the Day: One Thousand Years of Jewish Life in Poland. The View from Warsaw
  • Sites & Activities: Polin Museum (**short guided tour of no more than one hour), Okopowa St. Jewish Cemetery (Gesia), the Nozyk Synagogue with a meeting with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Plac Grzybowski & Prozna Street, Old Warsaw, dinner with Author and Journalist Anna Bikont
Educational Goals:
  • To give our participants a good sense of the rich Jewish civilization that the Nazis attempted to erase
  • To contemplate the “absence of presence” & the “presence of absence”
  • To begin the process of fleshing out the dilemmas and challenges facing Polish Jewry as Poland entered the modern era and the variety of responses and solutions that were attempted by the eve of the Shoah
  • To learn about Jewish religious life in Poland today and what might be the prospects of survival of Polish Jewry in the future.
  • To examine the changing historical narrative of Polish Jewry in the past decade as per the Polish government’s policies
  • Overnight: Warsaw

Tuesday, June 20: Warsaw & Treblinka Extermination Camp
  • Theme of the Day: The Largest Ghetto in Nazi-Occupied Europe - 1940-1943. - Dilemmas of Jewish Life, Death and Resistance in the Ghetto
  • Sites & Activities: Jewish Ghetto, Czerniakow home, Janusz Korczak Orphanage, Umschlagplatz, Mila 18, Rappaport Memorial, Treblinka death camp
Educational Goals:
  • To attempt and reconstruct life & death in the Warsaw Ghetto through the prism of the few physical remains that survived the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May 1943
  • To learn about the dilemmas facing the Jewish leadership of the Ghetto, as well as ordinary individuals, educators and civil society at large
  • To unpack the challenges facing the Jewish underground before, during and after the Uprising.
  • To examine the ways the Ghetto and the Uprising have been commemorated in Poland.
  • To begin our study of the Nazi ways and means of genocide – with a focus on the model of the extermination camps, particularly within the context of Operation Reinhard
Free Evening- dinner on your own Overnight: Warsaw
Wednesday, June 21: Majdanek & Lublin
  • Theme of the Day: The Nazi System of Extermination and Concentration Camps in Europe
  • Sites & Activities: Lublin-Old Town-Grodzka NN Theater, Majdanek Concentration Camp
Educational Goals:
  • To expose our participants to a local Polish educational initiative that tries to teach Poles about their vanished Jewish neighbors/co-citizens
  • To enter a dialogue with Polish educators about dilemmas and best practices regarding the presentation of historical narrative
  • To potentially create future collaboration between the American and Polish educators
  • To learn about the network of camps that the Nazis created – both within Germany and without – with the aim of contextualizing Majdanek within the overall framework of the Final Solution
  • To actively use primary sources as a tool to peek into the horror of life & death in the camps
  • To examine the way Poland commemorates what transpired in Majdanek and to start the internal discussion of how to bring the experience of the visit here back into the classroom
Dinner in the hotel included Reflection in small groups Overnight: Lublin
Thursday, June 22: Wierzbnik-Starachowice (Howard Chandler’s hometown) & Kielce
  • Theme of the Day: Bearing Witness and Grappling with the Question of Justice
  • Sites: The town of Wierzbnik-Starachowice, Tarnow
Educational Goals:
  • To view the events of the Shoah through the eyes of a victim/participant
  • To give our participants what might be the final opportunity to visit the “scene of the crime” with a survivor and bear witness
  • To grapple with the big questions revolving around justice after the Shoah; what would constitute justice? Who should be doing the judging? Was justice served and if not, then why not?
Evening arrival to Krakow and check-in. Free evening in Krakow
Friday, June 23: Auschwitz & Friday – Sabbath’s Eve in Krakow’s Jewish Quarter
  • Theme of the Day: Auschwitz - the Decline of Humanity
  • Sites: Auschwitz I Concentration Camp Museum, Auschwitz-Birkenau – the Extermination Camp
Educational Goals:
  • To continue to bear witness through the eyes of our accompanying survivor who spent time here
  • To attempt to understand the ramified system of exploitation, abuse and murder that the Nazis created at Auschwitz
  • To enable our participants to have time to reflect and experience the site with some unmediated time
  • To speak about some of the special/unique aspects about the Shoah as reflected in Auschwitz
Special Sabbath dinner in the Hotel Overnight: Krakow
Saturday, June 24: Krakow
  • Theme of the Day: Krakow - Jewish Life in Krakow before the Holocaust
  • Sites: Kazimierz - Jewish Quarter, Old City and Market Square, and remains of the Ghetto. Optional tour of the Old Town in the afternoon - St. Mary's Church, Wawel Castle, Main Market Square
Educational Goals:
  • To get a deeper understanding of pre-War Jewish life in a large cosmopolitan Polish city
  • To learn about Jewish practices and rituals as reflected in the many extant pre-War synagogues
  • To meet with members of the present Jewish community of Krakow
  • To meet with Ukrainian refugees that the Jews of Krakow have been taking care of
Free Evening-  Overnight: Krakow
Sunday, June 25:
  • Sites: Wieliczka salt mines
  • Overnight: Warsaw

Monday, June 26: Group Departures


Press Coverage

Please see below for additional resources, videos, and information about this seminar.


2022 Poland Seminar Video
  2019 Poland Personally Seminar Video
2018 Poland Seminar Video
2017 Poland Seminar Video
2016 Poland Seminar Video
Tribute to Seth's Grandmother, Margie Appel, at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / 2011
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / Educators 2012
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland / Students 2012

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