Leadership Summer in Europe Blog #2

Blog by Lebron and Ilu

On Saturday, we started our day by walking around the old city of Prague! We walked on the Charles Bridge which connects the east and west of Prague. Then we went into the Klementinum library which held many old books from as old as the 3rd century and an amazing and high up view of Prague. After lunch we did stand up paddle boarding on the Vlata River, where we played games such as racing.

We tried our best, but fell off the paddle boards quite a bit! We ended our day with convenience store shopping and a black light theater show.

On Sunday, we were very active and went on a hike in the Bohemian Switzerland national park which was very pretty. We hiked down to a river where we road around in a boat seeing rocks shaped like people and animals. One favorite was Rose and Jack from the Titanic rocks! We then hiked back up the forest which was tough, steep, and left everyone trying to catch their breaths.

Our day then became more somber when we arrived at Terezin concentration camp. This camp held 150,00 Jews who later got transferred to Auschwitz. Terezin existed just to be a propaganda tool. Their main goal was to show important figures that the concentration camps were an ethical and nice place to stay not a murderous and dangerous camp for the Jews. We saw a movie, visited a museum and walked around the town that housed thousands of Jews. This was an impactful and important experience for us to have.

Sadly, our last day in Prague was Monday. Though, we still had a filled and joyous day with lots of adventures. We started our day with white water rafting which was just an optical course that was very difficult to pass through that required a lot of ducking and screaming with almost every groups’ raft flipping over.

Everyone had fun and two of the raft groups had the opportunity to go down the rapid without a boat which was fun, but kind of scary. After rafting we did archery, there were two targets and each person was given a chance to shoot two arrows at a time and barely anyone was able to even hit the white. Unfortunately, no bullseyes today but this experience was still entertaining. Our group went on a short bus ride to the Koneprusy Caves which were extremely cold but still super cool. The view was beautiful and the guide explained all the different uses of the cave including mining and making coins. Afterwards, went to an orchestra performance at a remarkable Spanish Synagogue where we got the chance to hear a couple of songs we’ve never heard before and some songs that we knew like bohemian rhapsody, tradition by fiddler on the roof, hallelujah, and Avinu Malkeinu. We loved the voice of the opera singer, she was truly talented! Finally, we made our way to the restaurant where we ate pizza and pasta and celebrated David Nikitin’s birthday!

On Tuesday, everyone woke up bright and early to begin our journey to Vienna. On the way to Vienna, we stopped at an indoor/outdoor water park, Aqualand, with super fun slides and pools that everyone seemed to enjoy. Some favorites slides were “the Magic Hole” and “the Blue Trio.” Once our four hours of fun came to an end, we went back on the bus to go to the city of Vienna and our first stop was at the Millenium Mall where we got to eat and shop around. At the mall, we went bowling which was a blast! Due to our busy day we were all exhausted and finally were able to had to sleep.

On Wednesday, we were all excited to spend our first full day in Vienna. In the morning, we explored the Judenplatz (Jewish Square). We walked around and fully immersed ourselves in the culture of Vienna. One of our stops was a Holocaust memorial which was a small building covered in concrete books faced out. The artist explains that this was done to make the holocaust victims identities unknown. Then we visited the Stadttemple. The Stadttemple isn’t any old temple it is the only temple to have survived Kristalnacht (the night of broken glass). This temple was equal parts beautiful and meaningful. After we went to the Shoah Wall of Names which had the names of the 65,000 Austrian Holocaust victims. Following this meaningful morning we visited Naschmarket for lunch and shopping. Afterwards, our fun began. We went to One Jump World, a trampoline park! We bounced around for an hour and then explored the amusement park near by. Many went on rides and hung out until our fun dinner that was served to us via robots and tubes on the walls and around the room.

Succeeding that, we rode a super high and fun Ferris wheel giving us an incredible view of the amusement park!

On Friday, we drove from Vienna to Budapest after our long bus ride we went to a market hall for lunch. This reminded the Cleveland Natives of the West Side Market! We all enjoyed good and shopping around. We then drove to the Szechenyi baths where there are hot and cold pools. This is where we spent the majority of our afternoon before doing a Camp Wise shabbat in Budapest! We are all so excited to head to Camp Szarvas in the coming days!