Touro College brought 60 students to study the Holocaust in Germany and the Czech Republic through a unique ten-day immersive summer course. Each year, students travel to different places in Europe that offer real-world opportunities to learn Jewish history and Holocaust history, as part of a program presented by the Touro College Graduate School of Jewish Studies.
Founded by Touro professors Simcha Fishbane and Israel Singer, the course is taught by both Touro faculty and local experts. “Our goal is to broaden students’ perspectives and build their awareness of the history, the geography, and the future of Jews in Europe,” said Professor Singer.
This year’s students recently toured ancient synagogues, Jewish ghettos, and concentration camps in Prague, Nuremburg, and Munich.
“When Touro’s program began five years ago, 15 students attended. This year, 60 students joined the journey. “The trip itself lasted ten days, but the impact lasts a lifetime. It is different each year, so some students come more than once,” explained Dr. Fishbane.
The group visited the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Nuremburg Trial courtrooms, and the memorial to the Munich massacre, among other locales. They heard from experts, including Florian Dierl, head of the Documentation Center at Nuremberg, and Rabbi Yehuda Horowitz, the Vice Rabbi of Munich. They davened on Shabbos in the famous Altneuschul, built in the 13th century, where the Maharal of Prague davened.
Each day, students heard relevant lectures, participated in guided walking tours and had lots of discussion. There was also time set aside for students to enjoy seeing the local sights.
Back in New York, Joel Friedman, a student at Touro’s Lander College for Men, reflected on the experience. “I now appreciate that I can mostly walk around America peacefully without the fear of discrimination... I always knew that there weren’t too many of us remaining; however, when walking in the streets of Germany, this has become more evident to me. It is as if I have been living in a closed box my entire life,” he said.