by Louri Sullivan, Director of Community Impact and Special Projects, JFO

Teen trips to Israel and Jewish Europe are established summer experiences that dozens of Omaha teens are fortunate to have participated in throughout the years. The Jewish Federation proudly supports these trips because it recognizes the value of Jewish identity-building these opportunities provide.

Parents often report back to the Federation offices to describe the effect visiting overseas has on their children. At a recent lunch with friends, community member Kimberly Robinson recalls the group sharing memories of their children’s travels.  “Several of our children have been to Eastern Europe on the March of the Living, and it’s obvious why it’s important. But at the same time, we realized, we haven’t really offered this to adults. We’ve all been to Israel, multiple times, but none of us had really experienced a trip that incorporates Eastern European Jewish history. If it’s so important to teach our kids, shouldn’t we include the grownups as well?”

That thought made a mission a reality. The Women’s Mission to Jewish Europe travels through four countries from Oct. 27–Nov. 4. The trip includes Warsaw, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. It’s an important way to bring community members together at the start of another Annual Campaign season.

Robinson is the Mission Chair. “Sharing these types of meaningful experiences is important,” she says. “When we learn new things and visit places that have real meaning in our shared history, and we do so together, we become a better community. Our learning and our growing has to be multi-generational. We are all in this together, but we have to actively work on maintaining that togetherness. This Women’s Mission is one more element in that, and I hope many of our community members will decide to participate.”

Starting in Warsaw, Poland, this trip includes a tour of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Museum of Jewish History and the Umlschlagplatz Memorial. A drive to the city of Lublin follows. Before World War II, half of Lublin’s population was Jewish. It was famous for having, among other things, the world’s largest yeshiva. In Lublin, travelers will visit Camp Majdanek, one of the few extermination camps located within city walls.

The trip includes Krakow and Auschwitz-Birkenau and then on to Prague in the Czech Republic. The Prague castle, the Royal Palace and the Jewish Quarter are all highlights of this part of the tour. The Quarter is considered the most well preserved complex of Jewish historical monuments in Europe. You will see the Maisel, Pinkas and Klausen synagogues as well as the old-new synagogue. The Altneu Shul is Europe’s oldest active synagogue and has been the main synagogue of Prague’s Jewish community for over 700 years. It was completed in 1270 and was built in Gothic design. After visiting the Jewish cemetery, the tour travels by train to Vienna.

Together with a local guide, you will explore Vienna’s sights like the Hofburg, the Kohlmarkt and Schloss Belvedere before taking the train to Budapest. While there, our time will be spent cruising the Danube, touring the Jewish quarter in Pest and meeting with representatives of the Israel Cultural Institute and leaders from the Jewish Agency’s Partnership office who will showcase their work rebuilding Hungary’s Jewish community.

For more information and a complete itinerary, please contact me at 402.334.6485 or lsullivan@jewishomaha.org.