Okay, there were six Hassidim that were on the plane. I loved seeing them in their tallaisim and tefillin as we reached the time for Shema. It was a shock to the passengers, but I think that they were counting on it. I am not sure what was going on because they would not speak to me when I met them at baggage claim. Their silence evoked several questions in my head: "were they on a covert mission (not dressed as they were!); was their silence a tool of piety?; or were they simply scared to reveal their purpose?" Who knows, but it was good to see Yidn heading to Poland.
I slept well last night and seemed to be on Poland time, and the breakfast was terrific. I went to the mall to find a thumb drive—it is amazing after all of the planning that I still forgot some major stuff. At least here, I can generally get what I need as opposed to Africa.
I had a great meeting with Joe Smoczynski, the spiritual leader of Masorti Ki Tov Centrum synagogue in Warsaw. We talked about many things, including the future of Masorti Judaism in Poland, conversion, and education. It was enlightening to say the least. After that, he brought me to the synagogue which I had been to before. But now, it has a permanent ark with three sifrei Torah, and some beautiful artwork displayed.
We then walked to the Nozyk Synagogue, the home of Orthodoxy in Poland, and met with Rabbi Shudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland. Our conversation was extraordinary--we shared familiar stories of our youth in NY, shared some Torah, and talked about the state of Jewry and the immigration situation in Poland. Rabbi Shudricha went to JTS in New York and then several years later went to Yeshiva University. I talked about my wonderful teacher, Hazzan Abe Golinkin whose brother, David Golinkin, was Rabbi Shudrich's roommate at JTS!
Rabbi Shudrich's concern for the immigration problems at the border of Poland was commendable, and we talked about the possibility of doing a fundraising concert to support the situation while I am in Poland.
All in all, a fabulous day which could not have been better! I walked many miles today, and I did okay with the help of a patch on my back. I hope to get stronger and stronger as I do more walking during my stay.
Tomorrow Shabbes at the Masorti Synagogue and Havdallah and Malavei Malka at the Reform Synagogue, Eitz Chayim. What a beautiful way to spend the Sabbath! Shabbat Shalom to Kelley and all of my incredible family, and many many blessings to everyone.
Leather work from the 1930's hanging on the wall