Israeli school trips to Poland to resume following hiatus due to war

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch praised the new decision about resuming visits to Poland.

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

Israel’s Education Ministry has announced the resumption of student trips to Poland, where millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, months after the educational visits were halted due to the war with the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The announcement asked schools to start preparing for the trips to Poland if they wish, but to be prepared if in the end security issues make them impossible.

“In light of the importance the ministry attaches to the preservation of the important concept for commemorating the memory of the Holocaust and the National Revival, it encourages the schools that want to take trips in the summer to start preparing the students and build it in such a way that the preparation is self-sustaining even if in the end the trip to Poland is not possible,” the ministry said a statement.

“The ministry sees the power in telling the stories of Holocaust survivors who chose to return, live, and rebuilt their lives and contributed greatly to the establishment of the State of Israel and the spirit and beauty of Israeli society,” the statement added.

The trips scheduled for last month were canceled in November after consultations with security officials who determined that it was unsafe for the groups to travel.

This included 215 delegations comprising more than 24,000 students and teachers.

At the time, the ministry said it was “working on finding alternative solutions for these journeys, which will combine the memory of the Holocaust and the National Revival with the connection to the people, the homeland, and the values of volunteering and social cohesion.”

The announcement came amid the ongoing war with Hamas, which launched the conflict with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

Since then, there has been a massive global surge in antisemitism, which has reached record levels in the US and Europe in recent months.

Poland has experienced its share of antisemitic incidents since the outbreak of the war.

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch praised the new decision about resuming visits to Poland.

“The trip to Poland allows the students to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, to be exposed to the atrocities that took place, and to prove the victory and revival over the attempt to destroy the Jewish people,” he said.

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“Especially after Oct. 7, learning about the Jewish people, its events, and the importance of establishing a Jewish state” [is crucial].

The educational journeys to Poland include visits to Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz, where students hear first-hand testimonies from Holocaust survivors and put themselves in the shoes of one of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Students also interact with the country’s remaining Jewish communities.

At the conclusion of these visits, students gather and sing Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem.

The trip is geared towards students in their second to last or final year of high school, prior to their enlistment in the Israeli army.

The postponement of the trips came as a disappointment to many, as they had only just resumed in the summer of 2023 after being canceled since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and issues pertaining to whether Israeli security guards accompanying the students would be allowed to carry weapons.