This year marks the 27th anniversary of the March of the Living. The March of the living is an organized program where students from more than 45 countries unite and make a pilgrimage to the death factories in Europe, tour the ghettos, and comprehend the concentration camps and the effects of genocide and the Holocaust. This trip to Poland is followed by a visit to Israel for Remembrance Day honoring the fallen soldiers, a day that is highly valued in the country, and Independence Day. The two-week long trip will begin this upcoming Monday, starting in Poland and concluding in Israel. According to the organization’s chairman, the actual March of the Living pilgrimage to Auschwitz-Birkenau, done in Poland, will focus on “passing on the torch, with participants becoming the witnesses for the next generation.” He continued to state that with every year, comes fewer survivors, leading to fewer stories. Through this he stresses how with the rising anti-Semitism in Europe, it is imperative that the lessons, stories, and moral from this tragic period be understood and taken to action. The trip, led by former chief rabbi and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, has now accumulated over 220,000 participant over the years. He states, “I believe that the march has a transformative effect,” and that with each trip comes a change in mindset for every teen in this generation, something that is extremely valuable.
I am more than honored and blessed to say that, starting Monday, I will be a participant in the March of the Living. Spending a week in Poland and a week in Israel is something to cause excitement alone; but knowing I will be walking the same steps as millions of Jews that perished and brushing the same soil that my grandfather who survived the Holocaust did, is something unimaginable. This trip’s mission is to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance, and hate, something that my blogs have shown is very prevalent in the world. This is why I chose to make my theme for my blogs Genocide and Anti-Semitism. I wanted to receive more of a global and sociological understanding of Genocide, prejudice, and intolerance, and further, how it affects everyone. Both my parents have been on this trip, and in fact, my mother was on the first trip ever held. Without the trip my mother would not have decided to marry a Jewish man like my father. Not only is this trip the reason I am here today, but I get the opportunity to honor my grandfather like never before, a survivor of Auschwitz. Education, in my opinion, is the first step to making a difference. Learning about the terrors of the past and this psychology behind it can further help us engage and take preventative action in the present day and in the future. This is my first step to recognizing Genocide, prejudice, Anti-Semitism, intolerance, and hate; what’s yours?
April 10, 2015