Eye-opening, educational, extraordinary and emotional are only a few words that would describe my March of the Living experience.
March of the Living is an educational program, which brings high school students on a two-week trip to Poland and Israel. During the trip, we learned about Jewish life before, during and after the Second World War, all while talking with, and learning from, Holocaust survivors.
We spent the first week in Poland learning about the Jewish way of life there before the war and of the destruction of this life during the Holocaust. We visited old town squares, synagogues, cemeteries, ghettos, mass grave sites and death camps. I was amazed by the incredible history present in the old towns and synagogues. To me, it seemed impossible that Jewish life there could cease to exist. Alas, when I stood in the death camps, the disturbing and harsh reality was inescapable.
Yet, here we were, more than 70 years later, 10 000 Jews marching together, waving Israeli flags and standing up for our ancestors. Even though the actual March of the Living, which takes place on Yom HaShoah, was a solemn occasion, there is something very uplifting seeing all of us walking collectively from Auschwitz to Birkenau. It made me reflect on the past and wonder about the future. As I marched silently, I was feeling hopeful about the future and, even now, more than a month after the trip, I still have that incredible feeling, which I’m sure will never leave me. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is one I will cherish forever. Now I am a witness, a title I will proudly wear for the rest of my life.
The second part of our trip was a week in Israel filled with fun and excitement. We went to the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Masada, Tzfat, the Western Wall and many markets in Tel Aviv. We also participated in Yom Hazikaron ceremonies and attended a concert party on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
I got to perform in one of the Yom Hazikaron ceremonies. Standing on stage and singing with the choir was an amazing experience and let me connect to the ceremony even more personally.
I enjoyed our week in Israel a lot.
Reflecting back on my March of the Living trip, one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, I have no doubt this was an experience that will last forever.
I recommend March of the Living for anyone who has the opportunity to go. You won’t regret a single minute.
March of the Living is a program supported by Jewish Federations of Canada and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. For more information, contact Elana Moscoe at 613-798-4696, ext. 355, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anat Krechmer is a Grade 10 student at Sir Robert Borden High School.