Jews today tend to associate Poland exclusively with the horrors of the Holocaust. Poland has been called “the world’s biggest graveyard,” because on its soil was where most of the systematic murder of our people during World War II took place. However, it is very shortsighted to view Poland as little more than the darkest corner of Europe into which the Nazis concentrated the Jews before exterminating them.
Jews have lived in Poland for over a thousand years. In fact, for centuries, Poland was the most Jew-friendly state in Europe. Countless thousands of persecuted Jews throughout Christian Europe found refuge in Poland. For hundreds of years, Poland was the largest, most significant, most intellectually vibrant Jewish community in all of Europe. In fact, at its peak in the 17th century, the majority of the world’s Jews lived in Poland, a land referred to in Latin as, paradisus Iudaeorum: Jewish paradise.
JRoots, based in London, was created to empower today’s generation of Jews to meaningfully connect with their past through transformational travel and multi-media experiences. JRoots has inspired thousands on its signature trip to Poland. Walking the streets our forebears walked, praying where they prayed, singing where they sang, dancing where they danced touches the soul in a lasting way no book or movie ever could. By weaving a tapestry of life and death made real by the places they visit and the personalities they meet, the trips provide a sense of Jewish context and pride, ensuring participants focus on their commitment to a better tomorrow rather than despair over the tragedies of yesteryear.
JRoots produced this guidebook for their own participants as a supplement to be read before, during, and after their trip, to help make their personal journey as meaningful as it could be. It is now available to anyone, in the hope that it will enhance the significance of your own Poland experience, so that you too will return home more deeply motivated to invest in the Jewish people and our future.