Warsaw: Children and Fidelity

Janusz Korczak Monument, Jewish Cemetery, Warsaw. There are several places in Jewish writings—biblical, and extra-biblical—where we are reminded of our obligations to strangers, widows, and orphans. Often these reminders address our duty to provide for the physical needs of these three special groups. But there are, of course, other needs that members of these groups … Continue reading Warsaw: Children and Fidelity


Warsaw: Muzeum Chopina

It is the late 60s or early 70s perhaps; I can’t remember exactly. I am seated at one of two grand pianos in the salon of my piano teacher, Professor William Avera, on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building at Belhaven College. I am struggling mightily with one of Chopin’s compositions. At some … Continue reading Warsaw: Muzeum Chopina

Poland: POLIN – Ought and Can

Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. Does knowing how something ends, a book, a movie, a life, for instance, affect our experience of the thing? The answer seems obvious. Of course, it does. Ought it to affect our experience? The answer to this question is not as apparent. “Ought” is a tricky … Continue reading Poland: POLIN – Ought and Can

Warsaw: Dinner and Davening

“Galil” is a transliteration from the Hebrew of a word commonly used to refer to an area in Israel better known to English speakers as “Galilee.” Galilee is a beautiful, mountainous region in the north of Israel. Jesus was a Galilean. In his time, Galileans spoke with a distinctive accent. Following the arrest of Jesus, … Continue reading Warsaw: Dinner and Davening

Warsaw: Trains and Memory

Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, Warsaw, Poland © Beth Ben-Avraham, 2018 Sunday, October 21, 2018: We take an Express InterCity Premium train from Kraków to Warsaw in the afternoon. We purchase first-class tickets because there are no second-class seats available on the train we want to take. I can’t recall ever traveling first class before … Continue reading Warsaw: Trains and Memory

Kraków: The River Speaks Yiddish

In the section on Poland in his book A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, Ben G. Frank writes: Jews don’t visit Poland dispassionately. Sholem Asch once said that the broad shallow river, the Vistula, the queen of Polish rivers, spoke to him in Yiddish. No matter what language you speak, the Vistula—“on whose bank the … Continue reading Kraków: The River Speaks Yiddish

Kraków: Our Polish Sabbath

In the Symposium, Plato puts the following words in the mouth of Alcibiades: “Drunkards and children tell the truth.”¹ When drinking alcohol, people seem more inclined to say what they honestly think or feel. Can drinking also reveal something about a person’s character? Some people when they drink become aggressive, for example, or weepy and … Continue reading Kraków: Our Polish Sabbath