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Classrooms Without Borders

What our participants have to say...

Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland was extremely powerful and in many ways transformational. It turned out to be one of the most moving trips of my life. I knew that visiting the sites in Poland with a Holocaust survivor, Howard Chandler, would be very difficult emotionally, but its impact was even stronger than I had foreseen. Visiting the camps and the ghettos and hearing Howard’s explanations brought the experience to life in a way that nothing else could. Coupled with our group discussions, the experience helped me move from the abstract to the concrete and feel and visualize what the Jewish community of Europe went through in an unforgettable way. This on-site visit allowed me to identify with those historical events in a way that nothing else could. I was traveling with my son, Ben as well.  Being able to share this with him was very special and the shared experience, difficult as it was, fortified the bond between us.

Dr. Mark Frisch / Duquesne University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I thought the Germany Up Close trip was an extraordinary experience. It has helped me to understand why the Holocaust occurred and how much work we all still need to do to prevent genocide.

Joshua Frank
Germany Close Up

The Classrooms Without Borders program is a must­-participate for educators. It is a life­ changing experience that will forever shape how one views issues of genocide, dehumanization, tolerance, diversity and basic civil rights. Any teacher that touches on these issues should consider participating in this experience.

Tom Ralston / Superintendent / Avonworth School District
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Being in a place of such overwhelming sadness was the hardest part of my participation in Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland. For as challenging as it was to walk in the footsteps of those who had been slaughtered – to see what had become of once proud Polish Jewish communities and imagine what it was for innocents to be forced to step out of a cattle car and be marched straight into a gas chamber – the most difficult thing was to be hopeful in the face of such heartache.

Traveling under the auspices of Dr. Tsipy Gur's Classrooms Without Borders, ours was an intergenerational, interfaith group of forty educators and students, who only one week ago returned from Poland, sight of the worst example of human depravity in historical memory. Just over seventy years ago, the German Army marched across this ancient, beautiful land, systematically tearing asunder the fabric of a nation, killing some 6,000,000 Poles, 3,000,000 of whom were Jews.

There is still a great deal more to be unearthed and revealed, to be sure, but the prevailing discovery the participants of Classrooms Without Borders made is that if one is unwilling to give in to despair, and will expend the effort, there are indeed divine sparks to be found where once an all-but-consuming darkness reigned.

"Where can God be found? Jewish sources ask. Wherever one lets God in, comes the timeless reply. Even in Warsaw, Lublin and Krakow. Even in the presence of the ghettos, gas chambers and crematoria. Even in the face of the memory of the terror that was Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Even here. This was the healing, holy takeaway from an otherwise heart-rending journey. Po-lan-ya. Even here, our best hope for the next generation lives.

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Rabbi Aaron Bisno / Senior Rabbi of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Squirrel Hill
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

Teachers have to experience Israel in order to fully incorporate it into the classroom. I think I did a good job teaching about Israel before my visit, but I know that now, when I speak about Israel, it is with so much more depth, love, and passion. Sharing Israel now becomes natural in everything you teach, and this does not happen before visiting.

Gail Schmitt / Director at Adat Shalom Preschool
2016 Israel Seminar for Early Childhood Educators

This experience changed my perception of the Holocaust from a faded, black and white photograph of something that happened a long time ago, to a very concrete (and very scary) reality that is highly relevant to our future.

Roni Rosenfeld / Professor / Carnegie Mellon University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I am a true believer in experiential learning. Being in Israel or any location to see, touch, and hear about specific subjects greatly enhances how an instructor is going to deliver information to their students. This method is much more powerful than an instructor reading about it. We collected not only readings, but we have our own photos and specific memories. We are able to see things that may be of interest that one may not find in the readings. The instructor can tell the story and not lecture.

James Fleming / Educator/ Beacon College
2016 Israel Archeology Study Seminar: Discovering The Past Civilization

It is essential that Holocaust study programs for educators featuring site visits and personal interactions continue to be held so as to better instruct young minds on the topic. The impressions made by such a trip will enable teachers to better explain the Holocaust to their students, so that the lessons of the Holocaust serve as a reminder to be vigilant against attacks on human rights and dignity.

Dr. Gary Peiffer / Superintendent / Carlynton School District
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I would recommend this to any educator that has an interest in learning more about other regions and cultures because they create programs that are immersive, focused, and inspiring.

Russell Bellamy / Educator / Beacon College
2016 Israel Archeology Study Seminar: Discovering The Past Civilization

The contrast between the extermination camps and present-day Polish cities was quite thought-provoking...The opportunity to travel to Poland and visit sites that I have been studying for the greater part of my adult life was simply priceless. Walking the grounds of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Plaszow Labor Camp, and the death camps of Treblinka, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau brought home the brutality, despair and overwhelming sadness that permeated central and eastern Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. The juxtaposition of the architectural and cultural jewel of Krakow with Birkenau, the most murderous of the extermination camps, also forced me to grapple with how easily civilization can slide into barbarism.

Jeff Rutherford / Professor / Wheeling Jesuit University
Poland Personally: A Study Seminar to Poland

I will take back to the U.S. what I learned about the importance of language as it relates to history & memory: killed vs. murdered, Kristallnacht vs. November Pogrom.

Rebecca Ackner / Operations Director at Rodef Shalom Congregation
Germany Close Up

This trip is important to heal & forgive and correct pre-conceived misconceptions of the country.

Linor Vaknin / Marketing Manager, Chicago
Germany Close Up

I had an amaing time celebrating Shabbos with the young German-Jewish community – it was great to witness the universality and diversity of Judaism.

Jessica Spiegel / Physician Assistant, New York
Germany Close Up

The impact of the Holocaust permeates the culture here in unexpected ways.

Seth Bisen-Hersch / Composer and Pianist, New York
Germany Close Up

I learned that Jews in America are lucky because they aren't a minority (at least in New York) and are largely accepted. This isn't the case even now in Europe. I would recommend this trip for someone to get back in touch with his/her Jewish roots – to learn more about the importance of Jewish culture and the development of German society post WWII.

Ariel Rudolph / User Experience Architect / Chicago
Germany Close Up