Over the course of the pandemic, I think I have broken (or at least tied) the record for number of virtual trips to Poland. I’ve only been on two, but compared to the average that is probably a lot! The first was with the Columbia Barnard Hillel, and the second for the Exploring Yiddishland course component of the Naomi Prawar Kadar program. While I would love to visit the country in person, to experience the culture, and to see where my ancestors lived, it was such a blessing to be virtually “away” from home while still staying at home.
I have never felt much tying me to the state of Israel, or the Hebrew language. My ancestors are from Eastern Europe, and if they spoke Hebrew it was only in religious contexts. As I am not very religious myself, Hebrew does not “speak” to me the same way Yiddish does. I love to learn about Poland because when I learn about its history, I know that some part of me was there living that history. I love to speak Yiddish because some part of me has always spoken that language.