Hometown: Vienna, Austria
What attracted you to the AJC? A few years ago, I developed an interest in Middle Eastern cultures and languages. I became fascinated by the thousands of years of traditions, rituals, and the rich cultural history. When I learned about the AJC, I was drawn to the opportunity to teach and learn about Judaism and Jewish culture, not only the Shoah. The AJC offered me the opportunity I was looking for.
What are you enjoying most about your volunteer experience? I learn the most interesting things from questions from groups I guide that I don’t know the answer to. I also really enjoy visits from Israeli groups: last week, for example, we had a group of young Israelis. One of them told us that one of his ancestors lived in Oświęcim and showed us his great-grandfather in one of the pictures at the AJC.
How has volunteering affected you?
I certainly have become more reliable and responsible here. Also, I feel more confident and comfortable speaking in front of groups. I have learned to express my thoughts more clearly and efficiently. Working here, I am learning about Judaism and Polish culture in an engaging, less abstract manner.
What is one thing you’d like others to know about the AJC or think people don’t know? When I was still in Austria, preparing to come to Poland, I told people that I was going to Oświęcim to work there for a year. I did not meet a single person who knew what Oświęcim was, and when I clarified, people assumed it would be a depressing experience. Life in Oświęcim, however, is not depressing at all. It is a beautiful, dynamic town. People must know that the focus of the AJC is not on death and destruction, but rather on life.
The Auschwitz Jewish Center is operated by the Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. For additional blog entries by and about the Auschwitz Jewish Center, please visit mjhnyc.org/tag/ajc. All Fall 2015 newsletter articles are found here.