Most of each day is spent sitting by the train tracks at Birkenau, both in silence and in chanting the names of the dead. There is time to walk through the vast camps, do vigils inside women’s and children’s barracks, and memorial services. Participants meet daily in small Council groups designed to create a safe place for people to share their inner experiences. The whole group meets in the evenings to bear witness to oneness in diversity.
The following ZPO Bearing Witness Retreat Spirit Holders will be in attendence: Zen Masters Bernie Glassman and Genro Gauntt, Senseis Cornelius von Collande, Frank De Waele, Andrzej Krajewski, Barbara Wegmüller, Roland Wegmüller, and Fleet Maull, Father Manfred Deselaers, Rabbi Shir Yaacov Feit and Ginni Stern to meet each day to reflect on the retreat flow, schedule, events and make appropriate modifications if necessary..
To help uphold the ZPO standard of ethical behavior at our Bearing Witness Retreats, several Spirit Holders will also serve as an Ethics Council, responsible for receiving and addressing complaints of unethical behavior at the Retreat by any Staff Member or Participant.
We continue this begging practice by raising support for our work by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a necklace. Each bead represents a person who supports that member’s vision and work, and the entire mala represents the Member’s community of support.
This is a practice of giving and receiving. By asking for support from family, friends, and associates, we acknowledge that as individuals, we are limited in what we can do. We depend on the generosity of others to increase our membership, train more peacemakers, and develop and support more programs. This is one more way in which we bear witness in the interdependence of life.
Another important aspect of mala practice is the incorporation of the ministry of money in our program. The assembly of malas insures that money management and fundraising are not seen as foreign to peacemaking work; instead, the give-and-take of money is the compassionate, unobstructed flow of energy that nourishes and transforms our activities.
Mala practice also gives us the opportunity to share our work with our families, friends, and associates. Most of us lead professional work lives and have families. By raising money for our Socially Engaged Buddhist work, we publicize its activities, and most important, our own commitment. By wearing the beads we have assembled, we take our supporters with us in our peacemaking endeavors and on Bearing Witness retreats such as Auschwitz, thus making family and friends an intimate part of this peacemaking journey.
Assemble a mala (not from your personal funds) consisting of 18 small beads and one Buddha (large) bead or one of 108 beads and dedicate each bead to each of your donors. Beads from individuals or from groups or families are equally appreciated. When they offer a bead, they will be working, training, studying and traveling with you wherever you go.
Provide a Tax Deductible Donation for supporting this Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat.
Please specify in the comments block, of the donation form, that your donation is for the support of the Auschwitz Retreat.
You can also give Laurie Smith, (413) 367-5278, your credit card information, or send a check made payable to Zen Peacemakers, PO Box 460, Sunderland, MA 01375 attention 2015 Auschwitz Retreat. The fee includes all buses, food and accommodations at the Dialogue Center in Oświęcim (walking distance to both Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau). Travel to Krakow and your stay in Krakow are not included in the fee. Please fill out the Registration Form below: There are a small number of single rooms. There are also double, triple and dorms (6 people to a dorm.) When you fill out the Registration Form please help us with room assignments by filling in your gender. Priority is given to couples for the doubles. If you are attending the retreat as a couple, please list your roommate and select “yes” on the couple’s button in the Registration Form. If you have a desired roommate, please give us their name in the appropriate box. If you have special needs please list them in the comments box. For more information about registration and payments, please contact Laurie Smith by: email or by Phone: 1 (413) 367-5278. For more information about the retreat, please contact Ginni Stern by: email or by Phone: 1-802-734-6223 or by Skype: ginnistern
If a registration is canceled by the participant more than one month (31 days) prior to the retreat start date, all but $100 of the paid fees per person will be refunded.
If you cancel 15-30 days before the start date of the workshop, you will receive all but $300 of your retreat fee.
Fees are non refundable if a registration is cancelled by the participant within two weeks (14 days) of the start date of the retreat.
All refunds will be processed within 60 days of notification of cancellation.
If you roll-over your tuition from one year to the next, a refund will not be given if you decide not to attend the following year.
For more information, please contact Laurie Smith by: email or by Phone: 1 (413) 367-5278.
Thursday night was our usual night at the barracks. On this evening before Friday, the last day of the retreat, it’s customary for us to return to Birkenau in the darkness and sit in one of the barracks by candle and flashlight. Years ago some of these vigils lasted till midnight and even all the way till morning.
As we arrived at the main brick gate through which the train tracks tubed into the camp and directly to the sites of the crematoria, we went upstairs to the guard tower built above the gate. Here, looking out over their machine guns, SS guards enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of men, women, and children stumbling down from train cars that had been their prisons for days and even weeks, with no food or water, pushed and prodded by other guards with clubs and snarling dogs in the direction of the extermination sites. This has always been a chilling spot, inviting us to bear witness to guards with a panoramic view of the terror and suffering below, drinking coffee, laughing, complaining about the hard work and bad weather, gossiping, wishing the shift would end. Somewhere in that scene many of us could find ourselves, preoccupied by our own problems and our own lives, fitting with more or less ease into a system we may bemoan but won’t violate.
We then walked single-file to the barrack, where Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi invited us to look closer at perpetrators and victims. He especially invited the German participants to talk about their lives and families, their parents and grandparents who went through the war. Stories were related about depression, guilt, silence, denial, and the quiet violence that goes along with keeping secrets. I was moved to hear them. But I felt frustration as well, not with the stories but with the heavy, mechanistic view that if we can understand the past we’ll be able to change the present and future.
The Dalai Lama has said that karma is a subtle thing. In my understanding, it has dimensions that are so vast and numberless they are practically unknowable. We are given tours by well-trained guides who provide numbers, data, and facts, but can’t explain the effects of the Auschwitz genocide on the sky or the wind, on the poi dances of the Maori in New Zealand or the wild, timid manners of the alpaca in Peru. A few can point to the birth of Israel as a consequence of the Holocaust but not to global warming and the loss of half our wildlife over the last 40 years. That Thursday evening in the barrack I silently asked for a quality of bearing witness that was no longer just about perpetrators or victims, of who did what to whom, but to something much, much bigger.
How could something like Auschwitz happen? is a question that is asked not just by folks in our retreat but probably by most visitors walking down the dusty, pebbly paths between strings of barbed wire; you can almost see it in their eyes. The American president Dwight Eisenhower said that if you’re having trouble solving a problem, make it bigger. That night in the barrack I felt it was time for this retreat to go bigger. Clubs and labels—Nazis, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Israelis, Palestinians, Gays, Heteros—are as alive now as ever, exciting the same deep emotions, rivalries, and hates, but it feels too linear, too much like old history lessons. I feel we need to change the conversation concerning both the large phenomena of genocide or Shoah and the more personal conversation about the inner voices we ignore or deny. Both are not big enough. We have to ask larger questions even though we don’t know the questions; I don’t even know the words.
Instead I find myself thinking of bacteria, specifically the strains of bacteria that outwit antibiotics and pesticides. They mutate quickly, reproducing fast and changing their chemistry in the process. We humans don’t mutate quickly. If anything, I’m conscious of the slowness of my faculties, the resistance to change, the falling back to patterns, labels, and stories that cast blame or victimize, my desire for fast results that have nothing to do with the patience and sacrifice of billions of bacteria cells that die in the process of regeneration and renewal.
January 2015 will mark 70 years since the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. Historical forces are at hand, and we can ride them or ignore them. I find myself searching for new words, new stories, new formulations. I want to change my own old chemistry and uncover the energies that I believe are still bubbling in that gray place enclosed by barbed wire, powerful energies we haven’t begun to uncover. What is the Buddha’s work in this land of attachments? How do I change the chemistry of greed, anger and ignorance into healing and renewal on all levels, in all dimensions? I looked up again and again on Thursday and Friday at the gray skies over Birkenau and asked myself not what the inmates saw there 70 years ago, but what will be seen there 70 years from now. Will any of this still exist? More important, will anyone care? Or will things have happened that will dwarf the camps at Oswiecim?
For this reason I was deeply moved to see so many peacemakers gather in this place, the same place where, over a period of almost 20 years, many of us met each other for the first time, and then many times after that. We trained on the weekend before the retreat and on the weekend afterwards in listening not just to all the separate voices, but also to the greater truth of the group, the rich and complex language of people sitting in community, bodies stretching to bear witness to everyone in the room, and after that continuing to ask: And who else is in the room? What else must we listen to?
I feel these Zen Peacemakers are on to something, making their gathering place in the ruins of crematoria, in the green killing hills of Rwanda and in the rapacious thievery and violence of the Black Hills in the Dakotas, rooting ourselves in very specific historical events even as the challenge is to address who and what else is in the room. Nothing is without antidote, and even the deepest ash pits will still yield healing herbs to those who know how to search. So perhaps our work—at Auschwitz, Murambi, the Black Hills, Srebrenica, and the streets—is first to bear witness to what happened, and then find some way to create medicinal potions out of blood and cinder, a new chemistry for our precious world.
Who and what else is in the room have been the questions facing our group of spirit holders, whose job it has been to guide the retreat in the direction of its founder’s vision. This group also spent days in training, trying to point this retreat, which is a living, breathing being that renews itself with each new participant at each new gathering, into a deeper and deeper place of not-knowing. Like everyone else, we are a diverse lot with our own respective styles informed by different lands and cultures. As a new generation of leadership takes over, bringing with it more diversity and varied outlooks than ever before, it is important to create and transmit a clear set of rules and guidelines for everyone—participants, staff and spirit holders alike—to support both the spirit and the container of the retreat, and to prevent distraction, confusion and possibly harm. For this reason the spirit holders are in the process of creating an agreement defining ethical values and guidelines that we hope will enable us, as individuals and as a group, to delve deeper and deeper into not-knowing, to bear witness, and take the action that arises.
Many, many bows of appreciation to all who participated in and served this retreat for close to 20 years, and to the souls and spirits of Auschwitz.
Final Registration in Krakow
Final registration will take place in Krakow, in the Saski Hotel Lobby, Sunday night, November 1. You will receive your registration packets including lodging information, list of names to read at the Auschwitz site, name tags and general information.
We are reserving a block of rooms at a group discount rate for Sunday night. We recommend that you get reservations at this hotel (please click on the “Hotel” Tab below for directions on how to secure a reservation with our group discount.) The hotel cost for this night is not included in the Retreat Fee. You can see other lodging options by clicking on the “Hotel” Tab.
The 5-day retreat will begin on the morning of November 2 and end with a Sabbath dinner on November 6. Participants are asked to gather in Krakow by Sunday evening, November 1. The retreat will begin the following morning by bus to Oświęcim, 90 minutes away. We encourage participants to arrive in Krakow some days before to see the beautiful city and reduce effects of jet-lag. There are a small number of single rooms. There are also double, triple and dorms (6 people to a dorm.) When you fill out the Registration Form please help us with room assignments by filling in your gender. If you have a desired roommate, please give us their name in the appropriate box. If you have special needs please list them in the comments box.
The fee includes all buses, food and accommodations at the Dialogue Center in Oświęcim (walking distance to both Auschwitz 1 and Birkenau). Travel to Krakow and your stay in Krakow are not included in the fee.
For more information, please contact Laurie Smith by: email or by Phone: 1 (413) 367-5278.
We extend a special invitation to the 2015 Auschwitz Retreat for Young Adults, ages 18-28 at a reduced fee of $1300.
Young participants in the past have said that this retreat was crucial and formative, inspiring and guiding them in their decisions about life, work, and practice. Experienced retreat leaders will meet specifically with all Young Adults to provide extra support to them. Many participants raise money for this retreat by writing family members, friends, teachers, sangha members and work associates, requesting financial assistance to attend the Auschwitz Retreat. In return, they create a symbolic way of taking their donors with them to the retreat and undertake to share their stories and experiences with their donors when they return. We have encouraged begging as an important and inspiring practice (see Raising a Mala) for such a spiritual sojourn such as this. In addition, it might be possible for students to acquire university credit for their participation as a travel abroad course. f you want guidance for ways to raise funds for the retreat or to brainstorm ways to approach your university for credit, please contact Laurie Smith.
For more information, please contact Laurie Smith by: email or by Phone: 1 (413) 367-5278.
A second follow up 1-Day Workshop, after the retreat, on Nov 8, (for folks taking the workshop before the retreat) at the Saski Hotel, Krakow, Poland, (Saturday, November 8, 2015) is led by Jared Seide. This Workshop does not include room and board. Fee: $200
If the workshop is canceled by the Zen Peacemakers, registrants will receive full refunds of the paid registration fees. No refunds can be made for lodging, airfare or any other expenses related to attending the workshop.
If a registration is canceled by the participant more than one month (31 days) prior to the workshop start date, all but $25 of the paid fees will be refunded.
If you cancel 15-30 days before the start date of the workshop, you will receive all but $50 of your workshop fee.
Fees are non refundable if a registration is cancelled by the participant within two weeks (14 days) of the start date of the workshop.
All refunds will be processed within 30 days of notification of cancellation.
The Memorial (Yahrzeit) Candles / Auschwitz Retreat Scholarship Fund
During the Auschwitz Retreat, there will be many opportunities to light Memorial (Yahrzeit) Candles and say Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead).
We will create one special service as an offering during which Zen Peacemakers participating in the Auschwitz Retreat will light Memorial (Yahrzeit) Candles on the grounds of Auschwitz and read names of your loved ones aloud.
Donations collected for The Memorial (Yahrzeit) Candles will flow directly into an Auschwitz Retreat Scholarship Fund.
Suggested donation is $18 or $108 per candle.
Please be sure to include names to be read during this important ceremony. You may want a candle for someone whose name you don’t know. Please simply write, “Name Unknown” and this will be read out loud.
During the retreat, there will be memorial candles available for all retreatants whether you make a donation or not.
Hotel prices below are subject to change! Please, check before reserving.
Hotel Saski ul. Slawkowska 3 31-014 Krakow, Poland (Old Town) Saski Phone: +48 12 421 42 22 Saski
(The Hotel Saski is located in the very heart of Krakow, 50m away from the Old Market Square,
1 km from the railway/ the main bus station. The Jan Pawel II airport in Balice is 15 km away.)
The Hotel Saski is where you will find updates & notices posted on the wall beside the hotel lobby reception desk.
In past years some retreatants have been disturbed by noisy Saski rooms late at night. If you choose not to stay at the Saski, please check the notices posted in the Hotel Saski lobby daily, as any changes to the schedule will be posted there and this will be our main meeting place.
Retreat staff and many participants will stay at the Hotel Saski which is 1/2 block from Krakow’s wonderful Old Market Square – Rynek Glowny in Old Town Krakow. This is a lively and bustling ancient market square with lots of, museums, 14th Century Gothic churches, gift shops, restaurants and fabulous people watching from many cafes. Additional Krakow lodgings listed on the Zen Peacemaker website are within walking distance of the Hotel Saski.
* * There is a block of rooms being held and available now at the Hotel Saski. The proper way to make a reservation at the Hotel Saski in order to receive the 20% Peacemaker discount is to fill out this form. It is NOT possible to receive the Peacemaker Discount if you reserve your room directly through the Saski web site with your credit card!
If you prefer to share expenses by having a roommate at the Hotel Saski, there is a place on the form to make this request. Accepting a roommate makes it possible for more Peacemakers to stay at this Hotel and is greatly appreciated.
You will pay for your hotel room when you arrive at the Hotel Saski, but reserving early is useful as the Saski rooms fill up quickly.
Any questions about Saski reservations, please contact:
Petra Hubbeling [email protected]
Hotel Saski pricing for 2015
single rooms – 235zł – 20% = 188pln/ US$61
twin rooms – 300zł – 20% = 240pln/US$78 / by 2 if you choose a rmmt
triple rooms – 340zł -20% = 272pln /US$88 / by 3 if you choose a rmmt
single rooms with shared bathroom – 180zł -20% = 140pln/US$47
twin rooms with shared bathroom – 210zł -20% = 170pln/US$57 / by 2
if you choose a rmmt
double suites – 420zł – 20% = 336pln/US$108
HOTEL POLSKI pod Białym Orłem
We have also arranged a 2015 group rate for “Peacemakers” at the Hotel Polski. This is about 8-9 city blocks from the Hotel Saski in a more quiet part of the Old Town. The Polski rates doc is attached to this email. Please make your own reservation stating you are with the Peacemaker group, your name and dates. They will reply with an email to make arrangements to secure your room with a credit card.
attn: Elżbieta Włodarczyk or Anna Olewińska
Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem
tel. +48 12 261 38 30 mobile: +48 784 064 742
Hotel Polski Cancellation policy:
Until the deadline ( 3 weeks before arrival ) guests have a right to cancel the reservation until 6 p.m. without being charged with any costs. After 6 p.m. credit card will be debited with a prepayment equivalent to the costs of the first hotel day for all the rooms reserved . Upon that payment reservation is guaranteed, i.e. it is kept until 12.00 of the next day in case of your non-appearance.
If you fail to use the reservation and cancel the staying after the deadline for free of charge cancellation, the prepayment shall not be reimbursed. Any room cancelled, as well as modifying the reservation by cutting it short after the set deadline, will result in the guest being charged 100% of the cost of the reservation for each night.
The hotel day starts at 2 p.m. on the day of arrival and ends at 12 p.m. on the day of departure.
CAFE MŁYNEK BED & BREAKFAST
- highly recommended, but it is a bit further from the Saski. They a few delightful rooms.
Plac Wolnica 7 Kazimierz
tel. 012 43 06 202 tel. 0 502 302 803
[email protected] http://cafemlynek.com/
~ Goodbye Lenin Revolution Hostel Dolnych Młynów 9, 81-124 Kraków, Poland +48 12 421 20 30, or +48 12 341 46 66 http://www.goodbyeleninhostel.com/ ***several Peacemakers will stay here***
~ Seminarium Duchowne Salezjanow (12) 267 67 66 (12) 266 36 11 12-18 zl for night
~ Klasztor Salwatorianow (12) 269-12-31 with breakfast 62 zl
~ Seminarium Zmartwychwstancow ul, ks. Pawlikowskiego 1 (12) 266 69 65