Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ann Zelenka- Harmeze Visit, Lectures, My Last Night at CDIM

Today’s trip to the Museum at Harmeze was extremely thought-provoking and emotional. When I stepped inside and looked at the exhibits in all of their details, my stomach dropped. Seeing the drawings of individuals was quite disturbing as they were depicted as being so thin and frail, with strong emphasis on their bones and their malnourished bodies. Seeing St. Maximilian Kolbe depicted as a prisoner in his frailty also really touched me. Some of the other artwork was extremely provocative to the point where I began to feel really sick while being around it. But, I definitely enjoyed the exhibit and it reminded me of the fragile nature of human beings. It deepened my sense of compassion as well for others in general through seeing images of Christ also depicted as a prisoner.

                I liked Professor Donnarumma’s lecture about Auschwitz and the Theater. I never knew how involved the Jews were in theater productions within the camps until this discussion. However, I thought it was extremely cruel that theater was used as a means for Nazi propaganda: when the individuals were being filmed in order to make the concentration camps look more appealing or “fun” , it really bothered me. This is one of the many elements of cruelty that I especially cannot understand regarding the Nazis. It really makes my skin crawl how people were treated during this time. It is something that I truly cannot wrap my mind around. I cannot imagine in any way how human beings could be so driven to murder and torture mass amounts of people.

                                Additionally, I enjoyed the class lecture and discussion today regarding the topic of religious dialogue between Christians and Jews presented by Dr. Elena Precario-Foley. This session definitely inspired some thoughts regarding how to best stay in line with my own theological beliefs regarding Catholicism vs. Judaism. I honestly want to learn more about how to clearly develop my dialogue with others in ways which is respectful of Judaism, but also one that does not force me to refute my beliefs as Catholic.

                It is my last night at the CDIM. I am glad to be going home. I miss everyone back home and I miss life in America. I feel that this experience has been quite unique and has taught me a great deal of information regarding my Polish heritage. I am highly interested in deepening my culture and learning more about others as well. I hope to return to Poland one day and possibly be helpful in bringing Polish students to America for exchange. I have definitely experienced various feelings during this trip: both positive and negative. Positive in the respect that I have grown as a person and additionally, have learned a great deal about the Polish culture, the Jewish culture, and also about their relationships with one another in both their faith but in their relationships with one another through their personal lives as well. A primary example of this would be the relationship that Pope John Paul II and Isaac Kluger maintained as Catholic and Jew: they had complete respect for one another even though they were of different faiths. I was definitely inspired by this story and hope to show the same respect for other people even if I fundamentally disagree with their religious beliefs.


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