Pilgrimage: Poland

Fri., March 8 - Sat., March 16, 2019

The history of Europe in the twentieth century is marred by the atrocities of World War II. The story of the Jews is particularly bleak, and no place in Europe is this more evident than in Poland. However, if we are able to look beyond the cataclysmic events of the Holocaust, there is a deep, rich, complicated histroy of religion and multifaith dialogue in Poland. There have been Jews in Poland for nearly a millennium, and Jews were able to thrive in this region overwhelmingly characterized by its Catholic identity.

Pilgrimage: Poland is an intensive travel seminar that includes a half-unit course, a 9-day experience in Poland, follow up presentations, and intensive reflections. The program will explore the roots of Judaism in Poland, the lead-up to and effects of the Holocaust on the Polish community, and the process since the end of World War II to address the trauma Poles experienced both individually and collectively. The experience will blend spiritual and academic components to explore themes of culpability, memory, and forgiveness. In light of recent efforts to commemorate and politicize Poland's suffering under both Nazi and Soviet occupation, the trip will also closely examine reconciliation and religious social responsibility through particular study of Catholic-Jewish relations before, during, and after World War II.


Students of all faith backgrounds may apply for this spiritual journey. Students will participate in a half-unit course that meets weekly throughout the spring semester. Through Pilgrimage: Poland, students will use historical, social, political, and spiritual insight to:

  • Understand the general History of Poland vis-a-vis Christianity and Judaism
  • Consider the role of memory in shaping and affecting individual and group identities
  • Investigate the implications of preserving and commemoration
  • Explore theoretical and practical implications of forgiveness and coping
  • Learn how modern Poland grapples with the issues of reconcilation
  • Think about the Holocaust's implications for social responsibilty outside of Poland
  • Visit Krakow, Lublin, and Warsaw, and engage with contemporary Poles of various faith traditions to understand how they navigate these complicated topics

Applicants for Pilgrimage: Poland are encouraged to reserve Fridays from 10:30-11:45 a.m. for the spring semester class.

Each students will be expected to fully commit spiritually and intellectually to the pilgrimage (the course and the travel excursion) and offer an open and generous heart to the experience of their teammates. The Chaplaincy will cover the majority of the costs, but participants will be responsible for passport and visa application fees and meals while travelling. Should you have concerns about the financial commitment, please contact Josh Jeffreys.

The pilgrimage will be led by Josh Jeffreys, Jewish Chaplain and Director of Religious Life, and Jamie Lynn Haskins, Chaplain for Spiritual Life.

Pending approval from the Office of International Education