Tracing The Steps Of My Jewish Ancestors In Uggs: A Weeklong Journey Through Poland, Day 7

Tracing The Steps Of My Jewish Ancestors In Uggs: A Weeklong Journey Through Poland, Day 7

Into the sky.

After a late wake-up and a hearty breakfast (including hot chocolate!), we were off to explore the streets of Warsaw.

We departed in a large cluster of students and then split up when we reached the Old City. Freely walking around, we saw where the old meets the new. Tourist traps cropped up along the worn streets. The Presidential Palace stood proudly across from a pizza parlor. Squawking birds flew overhead as local artists sold paintings and wooden creations against the backdrop melded by the 20th and 21st centuries.

In the market square, I noticed a brightly colored item flapping in my periphery and I turned to behold a delightfully dressed, womanly bundle. It was being held by a woman at the center of the square, and the pair was surrounded by a crowd of people shouting and celebrating.

Naturally, I had to take a look. My friend Dan came face-to-cloth with the doll, the two drinking in the glory of each other.

After a confusing conversation that was more in hand motions than in Polish or English, we learned that the Slavic Belarusian ethnic minority group was celebrating the coming of spring. As we watched them parade the doll down the streets of Warsaw to drown it, playing a very vibrant tune, we couldn't help but smile.

We then went to the new part of the city and encountered shocking and unique stores like Starbucks. We passed several pizza places, a tea shop, an Italian pastry shop (with incredible tiramisu I might add), and a Bollywood lounge neighboring a Dunkin’ Donuts. It almost felt as if Warsaw had lost its culture after WWII and had replaced it with other cultures, as if to suggest that other cultures are more modernized than the one it had lost. After all, we were in the new part of the city, and nothing screams keeping up with the times like international food chains.

It wasn't long before we had to hop back onto the bus to go to the airport. We said our farewells to tour guide Rabbi Yitzhak and collectively navigated bag check, security, and border check before finally boarding the plane.

As the plane tipped its nose to the sky, I gazed out of the window at the light. Warsaw faded from my view as we rose higher and higher above the earth. Like a butterfly or a bird, we freely flew through the blue.

Soon after, the blue began to fade. Pink and orange scorched the sky. And then, after a while, it was black.

The plane continued to push through the darkness, and despite some turbulence, we successfully reached our final destination.

Groggy and worn down, we rose from our seats and stepped into our own country.


It feels so good to be home, but there is no time to rest. Not only because I've got piles of homework to do, but because I have a job to do.

Having experienced Poland, having seen ghettos and death camps and cemeteries, and having buried bones, it is now my responsibility to share what I have learned. The moment we forget all that transpired with the Holocaust, such a tragedy will happen again. And this just cannot be.

I write so that I can share stories and meaning from my own experiences with other people. There is so much that we can learn from each other, and sharing our knowledge with others is so important.

Soon, there will be no more Holocaust survivors. It will be the responsibility of the last generation who has spoken to them, my generation, to tell their stories. I have chronicled these past 7 days so that all that I have experienced, all that happened in the Holocaust, and all of the Holocaust stories will be remembered and so that we can actively prevent repetition of our fateful past. Remembering is the only way that we can stay out of the darkness. #neverforget
Cover Image Credit: Personal

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.

It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Calling People Hateful Is Not A Productive Dialogue

Universities have become a breeding ground for intolerance.


The political climate is rough. I don't enjoy commenting on it because of how controversial it has become. Every once in a while, however, I come across something that rubs me the wrong way.

As I was walking through campus the other day, chalked on the side of a cement wall was a phrase claiming the College Republican club on campus was a hate group. I don't know anything about the person who wrote this statement or anything about the College Republican group on campus, but I do know one thing: this statement is false.

Universities have become a breeding ground for intolerance.

Just because someone has a different opinion from you doesn't mean they are hateful. There is room for disagreement.

A psychology professor of mine once said something that impacted my perspective toward both political parties: "Both sides think they're right, but both sides can't be right." Both sides make decisions based on what they think is right. A person's opinion is not "wrong" if it differs from yours. It's just different.

It's important to recognize that people won't always agree with you, and that's okay. That doesn't give you the right to call them mean or hateful. It allows an entrance into discussion. Besides, if you want to persuade someone that your belief is more accurate, name calling won't get you anywhere. It will only cause the other person to view you as inconsiderate and unwilling to understand.

How can you convince someone to believe you when you won't listen to their perspective? How can you expect people to listen to you when you won't do the same in return? Not only is it important to recognize a person's beliefs, it's important to understand why they believe what they do.

In order for people to engage in productive dialogue, both sides need to listen to each other and respect each other. Tossing labels around progresses nowhere and doesn't benefit anyone.

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