In November 2016, we organized a meeting of Bresko high school students with students from Israel. It was a very beautiful and deep experience. Former Brzesko resident, Holocaust survivor Dov Landau came to Poland with a group of 105 boys and their teachers from a religious Jewish high school in Jerusalem. To be honest, I was a bit afraid of this visit – there seemed to be too many differences between these young Israelis and Bresko youth. However, it turned out that we have much more in common than one might think.
Not only students and their teachers, but also city authorities took part in the meeting in high school # 1 in Brzesko. At the beginning all the guests were welcomed by Brzesko mayor Grzegorz Wawryka. Headmaster of the Jerusalem school, Jeremy Stavisky, also shared few words, emphasizing the importance of such meetings, which in a very real way help to overcome existing stereotypes and prejudices.
Young people had an opportunity to visit the school, spend some time together, share about their experiences. This was not a rigid official meeting – after a few minutes of initial uncertainty, the students found a common language (everyone could communicate in English), and soon it turned out that the problems these teenagers face (also in relations with peers and teachers at school), do not depend on nationality, religious views or country of residence. And when Polish students started singing well-known contemporary songs, entire Israeli group joined the singing.
After the meeting at school, we went together to the Jewish cemetery, where Dov. Landau spoke about the fate of Bresko Jews and led the prayer in memory of the murdered. We prayed together, Jews and Catholics, over 200 people. We may have spoken to God in different languages, but I think we have all been heard.