Hi, there! Welcome to my blog!
If you've been here before, welcome back...I know it's been a while since I've posted anything. If this is your first time on my quaint little corner of the inter-web, it's nice to meet you. I hope to be writing a lot more as I transition from life as a undergraduate to the unknown ocean of adulthood. This post is a reflection piece on my most recent adventure, a 9 day trip to Central/Eastern Europe where I first participated in the first ever March of the Living Emerging Leaders Conference on Combatting Antisemitism, Racism, and Intolerance, followed by a trip to Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw where I conducted a bit of research on antisemitism and the Holocaust on my own.
I've been procrastinating on writing this piece as I graduated from college immediately after returning from this trip and am now in Iceland with my family for a week and leave for my summer in Tel Aviv in early June, so if my writing is a bit rushed and should you find any grammatical errors, pray, do forgive me.
Part 1: The March of the Living
Four years ago, just a month before I was to graduate from high school, I went on the March of the Living, a Holocaust remembrance and educational program where thousands of Jewish teens from all over the world travel to Poland to witness first hand the horrors of the Holocaust, visiting Nazi death camps. A memorial monument at Chelmno, a pit of ashes in Majdanek, the desolate fields that once were Treblinka, and the sprawling hell that is Auschwitz-Birkenau.
After days of bus rides through the Polish countryside, hearing the testimony of the survivors with our Broward County delegation, a river of tears, and saying kaddish so often it seemed like a morning prayer, my group and I found ourselves on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, with ten thousand others Jews from around the world, marching together on a bright, sunny morning, out of the gates of Auschwitz towards Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
During the March of the Living ceremony, there are speeches from leaders and diplomats, survivors and their families, all talking about the evils of hatred and vowing to "Never Forget". However, looking back on it, I don't remember a single word said that day by any one of the speakers. Now, four years later, when I remember my experience that morning, all I can think of is the moment at the very end of the ceremony, the moment Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem was sung. Click on the video above to watch that exact moment. Time stopped, everything was still. My mouth, shut, as a chorus of voices began to chant. "Kol od ba’le’vav". A wave of emotion rolled over me. How was it that despite the death and destruction and hatred that I had witnessed during the past few days that here I was, standing next to a crematoria, staring back at the remnants of hundreds of barracks, overwhelmed with, all of emotions, hope? I looked around me. Jewish stars. Jewish kids my age from Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and England. I spotted my best friends on my own trip, standing with our survivors, holding hands. It's a moment that words cannot adequately describe. Tears flowed from my eyes. I turned back towards the stage...and began to sing.
Part 2: Four Years Later
Durham, NC, 2018
When I left Poland, I swore that I would never go back. What an awful, anti-Semitic place with really bad food and this weird pink soup! So, as I write these words, it's still honestly still surprising to me that I went back a second time, four years after I had returned from my first March of the Living, to participate in the first ever Emerging Leaders Conference with alumni of the March. What happened in those four years of college that might have led me to going back you might ask?
Part 3: The History of Antisemitism
Prague, Czech Republic, May 5-6, 2019
Part 4: The Holocaust in Hungary
Budapest, Hungary, May 3-4, 2019
Part 5: Shabbat Shalom
Budapest, Hungary, May 3, 2019
Part 6: Emerging Leaders Conference
Kraków, Poland, April 30-May 2, 2019
Part 7: Hatikvah - The Hope
Part 8: Next Year in Jerusalem
I'd love to hear your thoughts! If anything I said resonated with you or if you'd like to discuss more, please reach out to me!
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