Poland Day 1: Mia Levin

Wow, I can't believe it, today is the day. The day we embark on the journey of a lifetime. For many of us, there were doubts as to whether this fantastic journey was going to happen or not. With everything going on in Israel, I believe it is even more essential for us to be there, so that we can learn about our history and be provided with the strength that we need in order to get through these testing times. I can't pinpoint exactly how I feel, it is overwhelming and surreal, and it hasn't properly hit me yet. 
The journey began with a 5:30am wake up and drive to the airport. When I arrived, I was surprised to see everyone lining up in an orderly fashion, with their rather large bags (a common side-effect of the South African mother). Everyone looked extremely excited, but behind almost every student’s smiling face was a tiny bit of fear. A fear of being over the 23 kg luggage allowance! Thankfully, Thai airways was feeling friendly and lenient, and allowed me on the plane with 23.5kgs! Some people got on with up to 32kg (hopefully El Al will feel the same).
After a brief farewell ceremony led by Rabbi Benji, we stood up at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport to sing Hatikva. There we stood, 138 students from Moriah and Masada College, singing the Israeli national anthem, in our hometown of Sydney, Australia. And then it hit us, the very next time we would be singing it, would most probably be in Poland. And the time after that...Israel, our true homeland.  
The first flight from Sydney to Bangkok was extremely exciting and hectic. Everyone was running around the plane sharing their excitement and preparing themselves for this incredible trip. The plane really did have an 'IST' vibe and we all felt very sorry for the strangers sitting around us...they probably wouldn't have found the flight as fun as we all did.
After an 8-hour layover in Bangkok, we split in half for our flights to either Germany or Paris. Both were night-flights so the majority of us had much-needed sleep. 
Currently, as we sit on the plane to Poland, we are all very unsure of what to expect. Emotions of both excitement and trepidation fill the air. Thinking about it, I feel as though it is almost a 'duty' of ours as Jews, to go to Poland in order to visit the places where millions of our people perished and where many generations of Jews were destroyed. I think it is going to be an extremely confronting experience that will certainly make us aware of the horrible cruelty of the Holocaust; whilst simultaneously, an experience that allows us to appreciate everything we have today as Jews living in the 21st century.
Whilst we are already missing our families, and the plane food hasn’t been as good as our home cooked meals, we are truly looking forward to arriving in Poland, and starting this journey which is bound to change each and every one us.
And off we go...


Poland Day 1: Alex Oosthuizen

The Shabbaton