Those who study history…

We’ve been in Europe for almost exactly two weeks now and we’ve seen some pretty heavy things (which is understandable when you’re studying Judaism in Europe). Seeing all of these museums and memorials dedicated to Jews in Europe (especially those that are dedicated to the holocaust times) gets me thinking… Why?

Why did this happen?
Why where these memorials and museums created? (What is there intention??)
Why are we, 21 young college students from the Midwest, so interested in them?
Why are the people that work at these museums and memorials so interested and invested in us knowing what happened?
Why are we inspired and motivated after going to a museum and memorial?

After spending the day at Terezin concentration camp and having a great group discussion with our amazing professors, I think I have arrived at a somewhat answer to these questions.

Mrs hall, my amazing history teacher in tenth grade, had a poster in her room that said “Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it” (we’ve probably all heard something along those lines before). Maybe the intent of these memorials and museums isn’t that for everybody, but for us students, this is what they want. The people that work at these museums are so invested in us, as students, learning about these events. They have given us stellar discounts and amazing guides and allowed us to take pictures when we aren’t supposed to. These people want to make sure that our generation is the best informed about these events to make sure that we know and that it won’t happen again. Not to say that it hasn’t happened again, because it has in other parts of the world, but they want us to realize how much a little injustice can escalate into something this huge. They want us (and we want to as well!) to look at the injustices that occur in our time (gay rights is the first one that pops into my mind) and to do something about it!

So that’s what these museums want us to so and I think that they are accomplishing their mission. So as we’ve been inspired, you can to. Go! And make a difference! Don’t let these injustices that we see today expand into something as horrible as the holocaust. Make sure history never repeats itself.

Love,
Ellie

Martin Luther is the Man

So it’s been a while, I apologize. Its been a crazy last few days full of a lot of traveling, sight seeing, and thinking. This past weekend we spent time in Wittenberg, home of THE Martin Luther ๐Ÿ™‚ we spent time in the Luther House and saw the first bible he translated into German AND we got to see his Latrine (be jealous). It was so so so awesome, as was Wittenberg. It was such a cute little town and I wish we weren’t there on a Sunday so more things would be open… But it was still fun!

Today we took a train to prague. I feel like I’m a Disney movie but its all real! There’s a castle and everything! We didn’t do much exploring tonight… But that will all come in the next few days!

Love,
Ellie

Friends and Berlin

Ah Berlin. A city that is super Americanized… But still old and pretty cool. It’s also huge… A lot bigger and harder to get around in than Amsterdam. But we’re all figuring it out slowly but surely. Today Beth, Katie, and I only got lost once compared to the multiple times we got lost yesterday… Progress!

I’m going to dedicate this blog post to the friends that I’ve made on this trip. Everyone is super nice and sweet and we all get along great, even when we’re exhausted and hungry and our feet hurt (which is better than my family does when traveling together…). I’m rooming with two super fantastic girls (Katie and Beth) and we get along so well. We laugh a lot and enjoy each others company and German soap operas on tv. Everyone is also super supportive and we have eachothers back when we are frustrated and tired. We also travel well and usually one of us in the group is a good navigator (which is extremely necessary in Berlin…)

Tomorrow we are heading to Wansee to spend the day in the villa where the “final Jewish solution” was decided. I’m super excited and it’s going to be a fun but long day!

Good night and sleep tight
Ellie

Amsterdam shenanigans

Well here I am on the last night in Amsterdam! It feels like only yesterday when we got here but tomorrow morning we leave for Berlin. Amsterdam has been an experience to say the least. I’ve been to five museums, the red light district, many restaurants, and have gotten lost a few times but its been fantastic!

Yesterday we started the day off with a tour of the Jewish quarter, it was gorgeous and we got to see some really neat memorials. Then, after a quick lunch of bread (I’m cheap…) we went to the Rembrandt house and looked around. Then a group of us went to the botanical gardens which were really cool (but probably would have been cooler If it wasn’t the middle of January…) then we hit up the Van Gogh museum, which was really awesome and totally worth the steep admission price. Later in the evening we went out for dinner and just wandering the city. We found the red light district and that was an experience to say the least. It was a fun, but long, day.

Today we started at the Portuguese synagog which was gorgeous. Then we hit up the Jewish museum which offered a lot of really interesting insight to Jewish religion and history in Amsterdam. The sun was out today so a group of us took pictures and then decided to catch a tram and see where it would take us! We ended up in a really cool part of town with the most beautiful old buildings! It was quite an adventure. We then found food and headed back early because we have a 6:00 train to catch tomorrow to Berlin ๐Ÿ™‚ it should be a fun adventure!

Love,
Ellie

Finally here!

Hello from rainy, warm, pot-smelling, legal-drinking-age, bike-ridden, fast-driver windmill-filled Amsterdam! We just arrived and are currently sitting in our hotel lobby waiting for our rooms to get cleaned. We are all extremely jet lagged and crabby and smell bad… But we are all surviving ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning we had to catch our connecting flight in Frankfurt. Now every season of the amazing race some team gets lost/misses their connecting flight in the Frankfurt airport. We almost met the same fate… Our flight from the US was a tad late and we had a little under an hour to catch connecting flight. During security, our group got split into three groups. One with professor Lovelace, one with professor sumila and then me and two other students. We booked it through that airport… I had never moved so fast in my life. When we got to our gate, half the group was still missing and the flight attendants were threatening (in German) to kick us off our flight and send our luggage on to Amsterdam (so threatening…) So we just took our sweet sweet time scanning our boarding passes and the rest of the group finally caught up. It was absolutely crazy and I think it took us all a good two hours to finally calm down again.

This afternoon we have lunch and then a tour of the Anne Frank house! Hope we can all stay up through it…

Sleepily,
Ellie

Be adventurous

I am currently sitting in the Chicago airport killing time until I meet my group upstairs (it was easier for me to fly from Duluth to here). I’ve been up for about 7 hours now and it’s only 9:30… I’m in for a long couple of days. But I am soooo excited ๐Ÿ™‚ this trip is going to be one of a lifetime and I really can’t wait for the adventures to begin ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning I was sitting next to an elderly gentleman on the airplane. We got to talking and when I told him I was going to Europe, he said “have many adventures. That got me thinking…”I am not an adventurous person.” I don’t take risks, I don’t do things that I might regret, I tend to hang back and let someone else take the first leap. Yolo is not in my vocabulary. I dont stay up late and my ideal weekend is spent with popcorn and netflix. I admire those of my friends who take risks and those who adventures come easily to.

However, one of my many New Years resolutions was to take more risks. This trip I am going to be adventurous. I’m going to embrace Europe with every fiber of my being. I’m going to meet new people and stay up past my bedtime. I am going to learn all I possibly can while experiencing as much as I can. I am going to eat a lot. I will embrace my inner Leah or Carolyn and be the one to take that first leap into the unknown. After all, you only live once ๐Ÿ™‚

Peace,
Ellie

T Minus 9 Days

In 8 days from now I will be finishing up packing, saying goodbye to my family, and setting my alarm to the ungodly hour of 3 in the morning so I can catch my flight from Duluth to Chicago to meet my group for my J-Term class.

This January, I am blessed with the most amazing privilege to travel to four countries in Europe: the Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, and Poland. I will be studying Judaism, both in the past and in the present with a strong focus on the Holocaust and WWII. This is part of my J 2 requirement at school so there will be 20 other Luther students and 2 amazing Luther facultyย accompanyingย me. I have never been to Europe and I cannot wait to see and experience such a different place, and, the extremely different Jewish culture ๐Ÿ™‚

In preparation for this trip we were required to watch four films, read a short book, and do some thinking about the Holocaust. In 10th grade I had the most amazing history teacher that really inspired me and stimulated my interest in WWII and the Holocaust (thanks Mrs. Hall!!) Hearing the stories from her about how her parents were separated during the Holocaust and then found each other again have given me a lot to think about. Since then, I’ve thought a great deal about the Holocaust and what allowed the the world to just sit by and watch this terrible tragedy happen. I’m glad that I get the opportunity to do some more thinking on this subject and I’m excited to see where my thoughts will lead me on this trip.

In just a few short days I will be saying goodbye to the good ol’ USA but in the meantime I need to pack, see friends, and attend camp reunion ๐Ÿ™‚ until later!

-Ellie