The effort—known as Living Memory: A Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project—is in the process of recruiting Christian and Jewish students from Xavier and other area institutions for the trip to Poland, which runs from May 24-June 4. The project focuses specifically on restoring and documenting the Jewish cemetery in the town of Szczebrzeszyn, which sits in southeastern Poland near the Ukraine border.
James Buchanan, director for the Brueggeman Center, says the organizers hopes to recruit 14-16 students for the trip. Along with their work in the cemetery, students will learn the history of Jews in Poland, visit the Auschwitz concentration camp, interact with Polish students, visit Pope John Paul II historical sites and share in a Shabbat dinner.
Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director for the Hillel center, says the cemetery restoration work is critical for preserving the history of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. The Holocaust obliterated much of that history, and today only a handful of synagogues and Jewish institutions—and very few Jews—exist in the region.
Students interested in taking part in the project should contact the Brueggeman Center for an application, which is due March 23. The organizers are covering all travel and hotel costs, but each student is expected to contribute $500. Scholarships are available to cover that amount, however.