Ride for the Living

On the way to Poland to participate in the Ride for the Living, we stopped in Girona, Spain.  

Girona is a medieval town and once the home to thousands of Jews. They first arrived as refugees when the Romans expelled them from Israel in the year 890.   

From our tour, which was actually a Game of Thrones tour (much of season 6 was filmed here), we visited the streets of the formerly Jewish quarter.  

Our tour guide, Miguel, who is 28 years old and was born in Girona, asked if any of the ten Americans on the tour were Jewish. Turns out four of us were. He then told us that he was a Marrano. A Marrano is someone whose Spanish ancestors chose to convert from Judaism to Christianity rather than be exiled or killed. He also shared that his family continues to observe Jewish traditions to this day. 

Later in the day, I visited the Girona Jewish Museum to learn more about the Jews that once lived there.  

It turns out that during their time in Girona, many were successful businessman, doctors, and even held government posts. They lived good lives in Girona for hundreds of years until they were blamed for the black plague, denounced by the church, King Fernando & Queen Isabel, and had to convert, leave or be killed.  

My father’s family came to Poland from Spain. His family lived in Poland for over 500 years, and I was born there. We, along with 13,000 other Jews, were expelled by the Communist-led government in 1968.  

More Jews lived in Poland at the start of WW II than anywhere else in the world; they numbered 3.5 million and were 10% of the population.  

90% of the Jews in Poland were murdered by the Nazis. 

When I did research on my father’s birth town, Zamość, I learned that only 350 of the 3500 Jewish inhabitants survived the Holocaust.  

I often wonder how it is that I am here today.  

Imagine your ancestors being thrown out of country after country because they are Jewish.   

Imagine only 80 years ago 90% of your family being killed by the Nazis because they were deemed an inferior race.  

I feel very lucky to be with my family to participate in the Krakow JCC’s 10th annual bike ride from Auschwitz to Krakow that symbolizes that Jewish life has survived.  

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to so many of you who contributed to the Ride for the Living fundraiser 

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