Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dances With Jews- (Krakow, Poland)

The Wedding Crasher
Krakow has some cool architecture as shown here. Nothing beats Prague though
My strategy while in Krakow was to get touristic advice from my host Anna, allowing her to draw me detailed maps, pack me lunches, and then promptly get lost upon setting foot outside, meandering around and altering my course as the wind dictated.
The breeze blows me towards an ancient Catholic Church. Well dressed people are filing inside, I get into the queue, somehow making it in. I’m gazing around at the architecture, the massiveness of this house of worship, my attention is completely absorbed.
People start filling the pews, a deep, somewhat mystical music begins to play, I quickly shuffle over to them, clearing the main aisle. Here comes the bride. Am I the Polish Wedding Crasher? 
Together Forever
Relationship locks
Poles, when they are in a serious relationship, attempt to "lock it down" by venturing atop bridges, writing their names on locks, and affixing them to the bridge's rails. 
As invariably most of these relationships don't stand the test of time, nearby stores remain well stocked with bolt cutters.
river view
Causes of Anti-Semitism?
I happen upon a free tour of the Jewish Quarters of Krakow, tip- 'optional.'
While our group walks to our next destination, two guys, one German, one American, are insisting our poor tour guide be held accountable, or at minimum provide an answer, as to why the Jewish figurines depicted in video below are even allowed to be sold in Poland. Sadly, our guide, gave the unimpressive response that people “need stereotypes.”
The guys show me a picture specifically of the Jewish figurine holding the bag of money. They are outraged, believing that these figures could have come straight from the Nazi propaganda machine of 1940 Germany. 

After seeing the figurines up close personally, and the whole variety of them, I am ambivalent as to whether I have any real issue with them ... If you wish to voice your opinion, please comment in the comment section below the blog.
Jewish figurines in a Krakow store

Jewish Ghetto
Tombstone gates of Krakow Jewish ghetto
 The gates to the Jewish Ghetto are designed were as a warning to Jews- ... what shape do they remind  you of? If you said "tombtone," then you are sadly correct. The gates architect was attempt to warn Jews that entering the ghetto would be their graveyard.

Schindler’s Factory
plaque to Oskar Schindler outside his factory in Krakow
We come to Oskar Schindler’s factory, its story made famous by Steven Spielberg's Oscar winning movie, “Schindler’s List.” The debate becomes whether Schindler, a card carrying Nazi and former spy for the party, was a greedy opportunist, or a humanitarian. 
I say, regardless of his original motives, he saved the lives of over 1,000 people, at great personal risk to himself, when few others would (or did) do the same. To me, that makes him worthy of admiration.

Dances With Jews
We stop at a square, and our guides describe the fact that pre-war, 60,000 Jews lived in Krakow, and the numerous atrocities perpetrated upon. Today there are 100 Jews left in all of Krakow, the population annihilated by the Nazis, and then further decimated by the Soviet Union.

How people can hate their fellow human beings so much, and be able to take pleasure at their misery, pain, and death is beyond me. Even Osama Bin Laden, who I would have shot without a question if given the opportunity, I sincerely hope that I wouldn’t gloat and take pleasure in his demise. 
Discussion Question: Then why do I get elated when I successfully swat a mosquito? And what about about lawyers?
Anyways, after describing some of the horrific acts, deceptions and deeds committed by the Nazis, our guides tried to cheer us up by teaching us Jewish dances, asking for volunteers. I’m the only one to answer the initial call, getting up, and standing next to our guides who have to beg the rest of our group of more than 50 persons for a few more.
“Brave man,” whispers our female guide to me.
I’m always baffled at how fearful and scared most human beings are of letting go of their sense of self, their sense of control, who care so much about what others think of them, even people they will never see again.

Think back to a specific situation you might have found lovely, exhilarating, embarrassing, or sad; it likely seems like a dream in the present moment, did it really even happen? We’re all dreaming this life, don’t take it too seriously. Maybe one day we'll awake inside this dream.
As consciousness awakens, the ego which creates such disharmony and hatred dissolves. Just take a deep breath and realize, in the end, nothing that happens is that important. In the meantime, keep dancing. (even if you don't think you can- prime example below)

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