Ilus­tra­tion, cropped, by Lau­ra Junger

Day 1: Luton to Chopin. The class will meet by the cur­ren­cy exchange at the entrance to the ter­mi­nal. No lat­er than 07:35. Trans­porta­tion will be the respon­si­bil­i­ty of par­ents, which is why Daniel Amar will get there at 07:37.

He’ll apol­o­gize to Mr. Polin, then move through the group look­ing for Ariel Naqqash, only to be met by Rafi, stand­ing there with Josh Gold and Josh C. in their boy­band for­ma­tion. Josh C. on the left, Gold in the mid­dle, Rafi on the right.

Here comes Bin Laden, Rafi will say. Going to blow up our flight?

Josh C. will bray, and Gold will say noth­ing, just stand there all cool, gelled-up quiff point­ing at the over­head lights. Put a sock in it, Naqqash will say as he comes over to spud Daniel Amar hello.

Great, Rafi’ll say. Anoth­er Bol­ly­wood bat­ty boy.

I’m Iraqi, not Indi­an, you fuck­ing Cos­sack, Naqqash will answer.

All the same. Oi, I bet they’ll cav­i­ty search Naqqash and Amar. Bet Amar will like it, won’t you?

Not as much as your mum would, Daniel Amar will answer.

Josh C. will snort, and Gold will smirk, and Rafi will start cussing Daniel Amar out.

Cur­ry cunt. Terrorist.

Then Rafi will ask: Why’re you even going on this trip, Amar?

Why not?

I thought you don’t find the Holo­caust sad.

Daniel Amar will sigh.

I nev­er said that.

Yeah, you did.

No, I didn’t.

Amar said he was sick of Holo­caust assem­blies. He said it when that reb­bet­zin woman came to speak.

They hap­pen like every oth­er week. That’s all I said.

See! You’re a heart­less bas­tard, Amar.

And before Daniel Amar will even have time to respond, Mrs. Specter’s whis­tle will blow.

Mr. Polin will call for the class to stand in a line while he num­bers every­one off.

Remem­ber your num­ber, it’s yours for the rest of the trip, Polin will say, then walk up and down the line, red plas­tic fold­er in one hand, lan­yard with keys in the oth­er. A Yan­kees cap on his head to hide his suede kippah.

He’ll clear his throat and say: Class 3B, from now until we leave Poland, you are ambas­sadors. Ambas­sadors of our school. You will be held as an exam­ple. As stu­dents. As Jews. So, no fun­ny busi­ness … Rafi Rosen. Joshua Cohen. Joshua Gold. No mis­be­hav­ing. Now, every­one please fol­low me. There’ll be time for Duty Free.

Then he’ll lead the march to check-in, red plas­tic fold­er high in the air guid­ing the troops behind him.

When the plane touch­es Pol­ish tar­mac, only Polin will clap. Specter will be asleep in the seat behind him, Night face-down on her lap. Every­one will num­ber off at least three more times. On the plane twice, then again on the shut­tle bus.

When it’s Daniel Amar’s turn at pass­port con­trol, Josh C. will call out from the mid­dle of the queue: Hide your bombs, Amar.

A few peo­ple around him will gasp.

Not at the air­port, dick­head, Naqqash’ll hiss.

And Josh C. will respond, Just a bit of banter.

Rafi will laugh and Gold will look away, pre­tend­ing not to have heard.

At bag­gage claim, Naqqash’ll say to Daniel Amar: You real­ly need to shut those pricks up.


The bus will be late, and Polin will pace back and forth mak­ing angry calls on his phone. Sit­ting on the curb, Naqqash will urge Daniel Amar to play a card game with his trav­el­ing deck. First Shit­head, then War, because Naqqash can nev­er remem­ber the rules. He’ll make a show of shuf­fling the cards: first a rif­fle shuf­fle, then a Hindu.

He’ll ask, What’d you think the sad­dest part of the trip will be?

Dun­no. The showers?

I heard peo­ple always cry on these trips.

What, like at the Kotel?

Naqqash will smirk. No, but appar­ent­ly every­one prop­er cries. Ben­ji Aden’s broth­er said so.

Isn’t he relig?

What’s your point?

It’s a bit point­less to cry.

Heart­less, Amar, he’ll say in a mock north­west accent, twist­ed half-smile on his lips.

Fuck off, Rafi.

Naqqash’ll laugh and the bus will arrive before they’ve even had a chance to play.

Polin will mum­ble a sheep­ish Dzień dobry at the dri­ver who’ll just about nod his response, cig­a­rette between his teeth, as he loads up the hold. Polin’ll stand at the front of the bus, plan in his hands, and begin direct­ing the class to their seats.

The stu­dents will let out a groan and Polin will say: Err, excuse me Class 3B, we’re still at school. This isn’t a hol­i­day. Con­sid­er the bus the class­room. Gem­ma Levin with Jem­ma Green … now, please, girls.

Each of his pair­ings will be fol­lowed by a yessss or a silence just as telling. He’ll butch­er John­ny Abrahimzada’s name and Adi Abargil-Benhamou’s as always, and the class will gig­gle and mime along when she’ll say: Abargil with a jeh, sir. Abar-j-il. Ben­hamou with an ah and an oo, sir. Ben-ha-moo.

Even­tu­al­ly he’ll land on Daniel Amar.

Daniel Amar, he’ll say, then do that thing where he hums his name while he scans the plan.




By Josh Gold, please.

Daniel Amar will stand there, feet stuck firm to the ground, mouth dry.

With Josh Gold, please, Daniel. Make it today…

He’ll look at Polin. Gold will be mak­ing his way up the steps.

Naqqash will give Daniel Amar a push. Come on mate, keep it moving.

Illus­tra­tion by Lau­ra Junger

He’ll read the sur­names: the Steins, the Sil­vers, the Sterns. Look for an Awad, an Amar.

He’ll hand his suit­case to the dri­ver and board the bus, his ears blocked from the flight. At his seat, he’ll put his bag down slow­ly, take out his hood­ie, a water bot­tle, ear­phones. An omelet in pita wrapped up in foil. Then he’ll put it all back, unsure what to do because he’ll nev­er have sat so close to Gold before. Nev­er so close as to be able to smell his house on his jumper. Like pep­per and papri­ka and vanil­la scent­ed can­dles. One of Gold’s arms will be cir­cled by gift­ed shag bands, the oth­er with wrist­bands — Live­strong, Make Pover­ty His­to­ry and Stand Up Speak Up. Daniel Amar will notice all of this down to the stains on Gold’s jeans, then he’ll sit star­ing at the blank tel­ly screen at the front of the bus.

Lunch will be late because of the flight. In the hos­tel com­mon room at 13:45.

Polin will sit oppo­site Daniel Amar and Naqqash at the cen­ter of the table, slurp­ing his kosher Pot Noo­dle, bits of mezonot rolls crum­bled before him.

In between mouth­fuls he’ll tell the table, A dif­fi­cult trip awaits every­one. All of you. If some­one needs to cry, it’s okay to cry. It’s over­whelm­ing to see our people’s suf­fer­ing and pain. We’ll leave under­stand­ing our bubbes and zaides much better.

Naqqash will scoff under his breath, Bubbe and zaide, imag­ine that!

And Daniel Amar will laugh. He’ll think of his sav­ta, her red lip­stick on, ladling hari­ra soup into a bowl. Arm jin­gling with sev­en gold ban­gles. Shkoon hada bub­bie? she asks. You want more soup?

Naqqash’ll poke at the dried bits from the fla­vor sachet. Why is Ash­ki food so ter­ri­ble? he’ll ask, plant­i­ng his fork in the pot like a flag.

Fuck this … Oi, Dan, what’s Gold like by himself?

Dun­no. We slept the whole way.

The after­noon will be spent sight­see­ing in War­saw. At the end of the day, when everyone’s ready for din­ner, Polin’ll announce into the mike: Last stop, guys. The Jew­ish cemetery.

He’ll stand at the front of the line, red plas­tic fold­er in hand, as the class march­es down the pave­ment to looks from passers-by. Just before the grave­yard, he’ll sig­nal to Specter, assigned to the back of the line, that they should take the alley­way on the right.

He’ll stop by a wall. I think this is the one, he’ll say to the class, mov­ing for­ward. Yes, it is. Every­one, please gath­er round.

Daniel Amar will feel Rafi and Josh C. pushed up beside him. Unaired sweaters, spearmint gum. Everyone’ll strain their heads to see bet­ter as Polin points to the graf­fi­ti. A swasti­ka spray-paint­ed onto a Star of David.

He’ll point and he’ll ask the class, Does any­one know about the Pol­ish response to sur­vivors? About anti­semitism in Poland today?

He’ll list off the facts and read a tes­ti­mo­ny from his fold­er, then he’ll open up the dis­cus­sion and ask: Can you think of a time you were tar­get­ed for look­ing Jew­ish? for being Jew­ish? In Lon­don or elsewhere?

And Rafi will laugh qui­et­ly into Daniel Amar’s ear.

Bet that’s nev­er been a prob­lem for you, has it, Amar?

Daniel Amar will ignore him, squint­ing at the swasti­ka even though he’ll see it per­fect­ly well.

And when Polin says, Put your hands up if that is the case, Daniel Amar will do so because oth­er­wise it’s only him, Abergil-Ben­hamou, and Naqqash who won’t.

Polin will tap the wall. Class 3B, this is liv­ing proof that Jew hatred didn’t go away with the Nazis. There are peo­ple out there who still want us dead. You owe it to the souls in that grave­yard to nev­er forget.

Bit heavy, Naqqash’ll say as the class resumes walking.

Have you nev­er been tar­get­ed anti­se­mit­i­cal­ly? Daniel Amar will ask, hands in his pockets.

Dun­no. Don’t think so. There was that secu­ri­ty guard at Michael’s brother’s bar mitz­vah. Wouldn’t let me in.


Didn’t think I was Jew­ish. Had to get Michael to come out while his broth­er was read­ing his Haftarah.

Is that antisemitic?

Felt anti­se­mit­ic to me.

At the ceme­tery, Polin will point at the bro­ken head­stones, the frag­ments on the wall like a black-and-white mosa­ic. Daniel Amar will read the names on the graves, fail to deci­pher the Hebrew dates. He’ll think of Papi’s grave, of Mamie’s too. Lime­stone beige on the out­skirts of Beit Shemesh. He’ll think of her mat­bukha, its fiery kick at the end, and whether she was real­ly buried with the recipe like Mum always said. He’ll read the sur­names: the Steins, the Sil­vers, the Sterns. Look for an Awad, an Amar.

At the end of the tour, Polin’ll get the class to gath­er before a few jagged pieces of con­crete. Even­ly placed in a semi­cir­cle, more bol­lards than gravestones.

This is a mass grave, he’ll say. Under here are hun­dreds of vic­tims from the War­saw ghetto.

And with that, Gem­ma F. will let out a cry like an open­ing shot. Naqqash will nudge Daniel Amar in the ribs, nod his head in Gemma’s direction.

It’s start­ed, he’ll say.

Day 2: Morn­ing trav­el to Łódź and an overnight stay. Naqqash and Daniel Amar will be the last to get on the bus. The class will cheer and hoot. Thir­ty hands clapping.

That’s enough, Class 3B, Polin’ll say through the mike. That’s the last time. Use the alarms on your phones, please, boys. The class won’t wait in the future.

Daniel Amar will meet Gold’s eyes, mut­ter an Alright? then sit down uncom­fort­ably beside him, bag on his lap.

Gold’ll offer him rugelach, but­ter bis­cuits, thin slices of bab­ka, all wrapped up in a nap­kin from break­fast. A gold­en oppor­tu­ni­ty for Daniel Amar to say some­thing, to strike up a conversation.

Instead, he’ll turn to Gold and say, Didn’t have you down for some­one that wraps up the hotel breakfast.

What’s that sup­posed to mean? Gold will shoot back, then turn to the win­dow. Besides, it’s not a hotel break­fast, he’ll add, it’s the kosher shit in the box­es they’ve got stashed in the hold.

For the rest of the jour­ney, Daniel Amar’ll be curs­ing him­self, won­der­ing why he made that com­ment. He’ll feel Gold’s knee hov­er­ing beside his, knock­ing against it with every pothole.

At a ser­vice sta­tion before Łódź, while every­one goes for a piss, Daniel Amar will buy snacks — Princes­sa wafers, Wedel bars — stash­ing them hur­ried­ly into his coat.

Oi, Amar. That your dad? Rafi will ask, voice in his ear, direct­ly behind him.

The cashier at the desk will be the only per­son of South Asian descent they’ve seen the whole trip.

Good one, Daniel Amar will answer. Nev­er heard that before.

Make sure Polin doesn’t see you buy­ing those non-kosher snacks.

Dit­to, Daniel Amar will say, eye­ing the box of ptasie mleczko pressed against Rafi’s thigh.

He’ll be at the door, coat heavy with treats, when he’ll hear the cashier tell Rafi he’s a few zło­ty short.

Ermmm … Daniel?

Daniel Amar could leave him there with­out a snack. Extract a small revenge.

But he won’t. Instead, he’ll dig deep into his pock­ets, press a load of coins into Rafi’s hands, and regret it lat­er when Rafi calls him Pan­jabi MC, Al Qae­da, then tells him: Chill, it’s all banter.

After lunch, it’s off to Rade­gast Sta­tion. Polin will have the class gath­er by the sign with the Nazi font on the main build­ing. This place act­ed as an Umschlag­platz for trans­port­ing the Jews from the ghet­to to the camps, he’ll say. He’ll ask every­one to get on one of the wood­en wag­ons, all thir­ty stu­dents of Class 3B squashed on together.

There’ll be a bit of mur­mur­ing, a few cam­eras flash­ing, fol­lowed by a pin-drop silence. Peo­ple won’t know where to look. Pressed up against one anoth­er, Daniel Amar will feel Gold’s crotch dig in from behind.

Polin’ll say: We’re thir­ty. But often there were as many as eighty, some­times more. No space, no pri­va­cy. Trav­el­ing for days across Europe.

Daniel Amar will tell him­self that he’ll prob­a­bly cry. Not that he’d want to, but it’s bound to move him. It’s Auschwitz.

Jemma’s sobs will get loud­er, then Adi will join her. And in the cor­ner, Daniel Amar will notice big Michael’s eye­lids flared pink.

A grand total of three, he’ll think to him­self, avoid­ing eye con­tact with Naqqash.

Day 3 and day 4: Shab­bat in Lublin. There will be two options for ser­vices: Tra­di­tion­al (prayers) or sec­u­lar (a chat about prayers).

Every­one will sign up for the sec­u­lar one.

But Polin will con­vince sev­en boys in the class to renege and sign up for prayers. He’ll be two boys short of a minyan. Naqqash will feel bad and con­vince Daniel Amar to sign up as well.

Can’t be the ones stop­ping them from prayers. What are we, Ashkis? He’ll say.

No, that’s exact­ly the point, Daniel Amar will say five min­utes in, when nei­ther of them can fol­low the pro­nun­ci­a­tion, the melody.

At Friday’s kid­dush table, there’ll be gefilte fish, chrain, a yel­low broth with a slice of car­rot adrift. Polin’ll bless the wine and the bread. Tonight we’ll eat like a fam­i­ly, he’ll say.

If my fam­i­ly came from the Russ­ian steppes, Naqqash’ll mut­ter under his breath. Dan, I beg you give me some of that choc you have in our room.

On Shab­bat they’ll hang out in their rooms until it’s time for Hav­dalah at the bound­ary wall of the ghetto.

Polin’ll wait for three stars to appear even though he has the Shab­bat times writ­ten in his plan­ner. So that he can show the class how to read the sky and turn it into a lesson.

Then he’ll get the class to walk to the site in their pairs. Daniel Amar look­ing for the words, Gold as silent as ever.

Polin will bless the grape juice, the braid­ed can­dle, pass around a box with cloves for besamim. After he says the Hav­dalah bless­ing, he’ll get the class to link up and sway side-to-side, singing ya-lai-lais, while Naqqash mouths to Daniel Amar: The fuck is this?

Daniel Amar will feel Gold’s hand on his back. He’ll place an unsure hand on Gold’s waist, just the tips of his fin­gers at first, then he’ll inch up his palm.

The heat will linger in his hand and his back long after they’ve board­ed the bus.

Day 5: Tour of Maj­danek camp.

At break­fast in the hos­tel, Rafi and Josh Gold and Josh C. will sit down oppo­site Naqqash and Daniel Amar. They’ll start mak­ing jokes about Specter’s Guc­ci hand­bag, her per­fect­ly straight­ened hair.

She’s such a god­damn beck, Josh C. will say. Such a Radlett mum.

An absolute Jew, Rafi’ll add. I bet she has a time­share in Miami.

Nah. A vil­la in Mar­bel­la, Gold’ll say.

Rafi and Josh Gold will snick­er and Josh C. will smile, crois­sant flakes in the cor­ner of his mouth.

I don’t get how that makes her a Jew? Daniel Amar will say.

Who was ask­ing you, Amar? Rafi will snipe.

Just say­ing that doesn’t make her a Jew.

What would you know? Your mum smells of cur­ry, he’ll add. Taunt­ing smile.

Nev­er even met my mum, absolute twat, Daniel Amar will say, voice half-breaking.

Josh C. will laugh, and Josh Gold will give him a pity-smile.

Specter will blow her whistle.

And Polin’ll call across the room: Class 3B, fin­ish up and head to the bus.

At the memo­r­i­al by the entry gate to Maj­danek, Polin will tell the class: the Com­mu­nists were quick to for­get. Few of the orig­i­nal signs and mon­u­ments at the camps specif­i­cal­ly men­tion the Jews. Then the class will tread through the grounds, noise­less and solemn.

Past the ovens, the rose gar­den, the shoot­ing pits.

One by one, peo­ple will begin to cry, all the way up the mau­soleum steps. Even Naqqash.

He’ll let out a sob, pierc­ing and sad because Naqqash nev­er cries.

Daniel Amar will fum­ble for tis­sues in the back pock­et of his jeans, press them into Naqqash’s hands.

Day 6: Auschwitz with an overnight stay in Kaz­imierz. Daniel Amar will tell him­self that he’ll prob­a­bly cry. Not that he’d want to, but it’s bound to move him. It’s Auschwitz. He’ll see all those images he’s been shown a thou­sand times before, this time with his very own eyes.

The sign on the gate. The train-track lines. Israeli flags worn like cloaks by kids on school trips from Netanya and Rehovot.

On the bus, Polin’ll hand out spe­cial cards with a name sur­round­ed by a flame.

Daniel Amar’s card will say:

Avra­ham Mendel,

Aged 16.


Polin will tell the class, I want every­one to remem­ber the per­son on their card as we pass through the camp. Think about who they were, how they felt com­ing here. They would’ve lived Jew­ish lives, sim­i­lar to ours … just with­out some of our mod cons.

Then he’ll roll his eyes at Specter as if to say: The kids of today. Daniel Amar will think of Mendel from Min­sk as he pass­es by the watch­tow­ers. The dis­sec­tion tables. The walls stained blue with gas.

He’ll pic­ture Mendel board­ing the 253 to Manor House, the 73 into town. Eat­ing Moroc­can fish on Fri­day night, skhi­na on Shab­bat. His mum, spon­ja stick in hand, clean­ing the floor to Zeha­va Ben, Eyal Golan.

By the time he’ll pass the heap of pros­thet­ics, the moun­tain of shoes, he’ll be try­ing to envi­sion Mendel’s grand­par­ents’ home. Baba Sali por­traits, ham­sas by the front door. Bless­ings for the home engraved on plaques. Mendel spend­ing sum­mers rest­less and bored in Beit Shemesh, Kiry­at Shmona. Elders with thick accents. Moroc­can and Hebrew and French. Sun­flower seeds and mint tea. Crunch­ing on the shbekiya laid out for the guests, who ask things like: What’s life like in Lon­don? Is there anti­semitism there? Do the Arabs cause prob­lems there as well?

He’ll pic­ture Mendel bored at school. On the white­board, a les­son about Jew­ish schisms in places of lit­tle rel­e­vance to him. Lithua­nia, Gal­itzia, Bres­lau. A Rafi in his class who makes Mendel the butt of his jokes. Calls him a ter­ror­ist, a Paki, then tells him it’s banter.

The class will gath­er around the pond thick with human ash. And Daniel Amar still won’t have cried. He’ll stand by the water won­der­ing if Rafi was right. Are you a heart­less bas­tard, Amar?

The class will light can­dles to hon­or the names on their cards. To remem­ber to nev­er forget.

Polin will recite the kad­dish prayer. Yis­gadal V’yiskadash. Then he’ll turn to the class and ask, How does every­one feel? Does any­one have any­thing to share?

One by one, peo­ple will speak.

They’ll start with their emo­tions, how they’ve been pro­cess­ing the day. Then they’ll dig out the fam­i­ly sto­ries, the mem­o­ries. Their inher­it­ed trau­ma, their Jew­ish birthright.

Gem­ma F.’s grand­pa hid in the forest.

Jem­ma Green’s grand­ma left on the Kindertransport.

Rafi’s grand­ma sur­vived Auschwitz. Has the tat­too to prove it.

Even Abergil-Ben­hamou has a sto­ry: her great-aunt Simi mar­ried a Libyan Jew who’d been sent to work in Giado.

First I’ve heard of it, Polin’ll respond. What about you Daniel, any­thing to share?

Daniel Amar will swallow.

He’ll pic­ture Mamie wear­ing a two-piece suit on the cor­niche in Casablan­ca, Papi smok­ing a cig­a­rette beside her, both smil­ing at the camera.

He’ll think of Sav­ta Masu’da, scarf tied on her head in the mid­dle, tea-tow­el on her shoul­der, a pan full of oil, fry­ing up schnitzel. You have us mis­tak­en, she says. We came out just fine. Thank God. When the Nazis came to Moroc­co, the King said, I have no Jews, no Mus­lims. Only Moroc­cans. You under­stand, kparah a’lik?

By the time Daniel Amar is able to speak, Polin will have moved on. Josh Gold will be telling his sto­ry. Tears down his face.

Day 7: Morn­ing tour of the Jew­ish dis­trict of Kraków (Kaz­imierz), then bus ride back to Chopin and evening flight to Luton.

In Kaz­imierz, the class will be con­fused by the Jew­ish-themed restau­rants, nei­ther kosher nor par­tic­u­lar­ly Jew­ish. Pol­ish signs in a Hebrew-esque font. They’ll switch between laugh­ter and out­rage at the sou­venir shops sell­ing Lucky Jew dolls hold­ing coins in their hands. A few will make their way back as gifts for par­ents and siblings.

After Kaz­imierz, there’ll be a sand­wich lunch on the bus (tuna mayo, smoked salmon with cream cheese) and a screen­ing of Schindler’s List because Polin will have final­ly worked out how to use the tel­ly on board.

The class will be drained, and Polin will nev­er have their atten­tion like this again.

He’ll tell the class, This is Spielberg’s finest. A per­fect way to end the trip, because remem­ber, after this it falls on you to take the lessons of Poland and edu­cate others.

The open­ing shot will give way to the kid­dush scene. Savri maranan. Jews in a line. Cuf­flinks. Nazis. Bot­tles of wine. The march to the ghet­tos. Jews shov­el­ing snow. And it’ll be after the killing of the one-armed machin­ist, and after they shoot the archi­tect who was only doing her job. It’ll be when they start liq­ui­dat­ing Ghet­to B and the girl in the red coat runs through the streets — that’s when Daniel Amar will cry.

A sin­gle silent tear fol­lowed by a long hard sob set to the lyrics of Oyfn Pripetshik.

As the bus pulls into Chopin and the end cred­its roll, Gold will be asleep, iPod on his lap. Daniel Amar will wish that Gold had seen him cry. He’ll glance at Gold’s face, his quiff still hard­ened with gel, and rehearse in his head what he’ll say when Gold wakes up.

And as every­one scram­bles for their bags from the over­head rack, Gold will open his eyes and see Daniel Amar star­ing down at him.

Were you watch­ing me sleep, Amar?

And before Daniel Amar can even respond, Rafi will barge past: Oi, move it, Bin Laden, you’re hold­ing us up.

Lee­or Ohay­on is a writer from Lon­don based in Nor­wich, where he is begin­ning a PhD in Cre­ative – Crit­i­cal Writ­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of East Anglia. He is the 2021 win­ner of the Roy­al Soci­ety of Literature’s V. S. Pritch­ett Short Sto­ry Prize.