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March of the Living

05/03/2023 02:44:35 PM


An hour, a day, a week, a month, a year - even a lifetime - is not enough time to begin to tell you what my eyes have witnessed and how my life has been transformed forever.

You can watch Holocaust movies and look at photos of concentration camps, but until you witness the marks of desperation on the walls of the crematorium at Auschwitz-Birkenau, until you lay your eyes on the mountain of ashes at Majdanek, until you see the anguish through the eyes of a survivor reliving the past, until you hear the vivid cries of the souls from the depths of Treblinka, until you stand on the hallowed grounds in the Gora forest where masses of children were buried alive, until you witness the mountain of human hair used to manufacture ropes, carpets, mattress stuffing, and socks for Nazi troops, until you sense the palpable feeling of dread victims must have felt when they were stripped of their dignity and pride... the Holocaust is black ink on a white piece of paper.

Now I am back. Now I am a witness.

A witness who has walked the same road many others have walked – others who never came back. One who has paced the tracks on which trainloads of men, women, and children were treated like animals - only to be killed as one. One who walked hand in hand in silence with thousands of other witnesses to counter the march of death and by being part of a March of the Living!

But within all this madness and insanity, I found a ray of hope. Hope in the eyes of our survivors, Steven, Eva, and Aviva. These brave children of the Holocaust relived their pain, retraced their steps but this time they were not cold and hungry. This time they were not alone. I was there with them; I held their hands. Being there with them allowed me to understand in my own humble way their pain and anguish, but it also gave me the chance to share in their dreams.

Eva had a Bat Mitzvah along with 8 other participants and chaperones at the Kotel in Jerusalem – that was a dream. Steven and Aviva joining 10,000 enthusiastic youth from around the world dancing in the streets of Jerusalem on Yom Ha’atzmaut – that was a dream.

It is dreams like these that will keep the Jewish soul alive. It is these dreams that will ensure a brighter tomorrow for generations to come.

It’s the same generation of young participants who approached me in the middle of the night during our return flight to reveal their feelings, share their experience, and simply bear their souls to someone who lived this emotional roller coaster with them. It is now up to them and the myriad of others who retraced the survivors’ path to carry the torch for generations to come.

Now I stand before you and pledge my undying commitment to never forget the past - but I also pledge my unending commitment to ensure Jewish continuity.

Am Yisrael Chai.

A Blessing for our Congregation CLICK HERE


Mon, June 24 2024 18 Sivan 5784