• Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations

    - by Eli Rubenstein, Director of March of the Living Canada
    Holocaust Survivors are aging. Once they are no longer able to, who will tell their stories?
    A book based on an acclaimed exhibit of photographs launched at the United Nations. 'Witness is a moving project, serving as both a memorial to those lost and a charge to not let events repeat themselves." - Forword Reviews. Photos and firsthand accounts show us the remarkable passing of the torch to the young who become new witnesses.


The March of Remembrance and Hope is a dynamic educational leadership program that teaches students of different religious and ethnic backgrounds about the dangers of intolerance through the study of the Holocaust, and to promote better relations among people of diverse cultures.

Filmed and Edited by Laina Brown, 2016 MRH Participant

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March of the Living Canada

Since 1988, on every Yom Hashoah, over 250,000 people from over 30 countries have accompanied brave holocaust survivors in silence on the infamous ‘Walk of Death’ -  the three kilometers that separate Auschwitz from Birkenau - on the March of the Living.

 

March of the Living brings students from all over the world to Poland to visit sites of mass murder and Nazi genocide along with visits to once thriving sites of Jewish life and culture. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the students march from Auschwitz-Birkenau in memory of all victims and against prejudice, intolerance and hate. The journey continues to Israel where they celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut on the streets of Tel Aviv.

 

On the trip, the students plant plaques on the very grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, proclaiming their commitment to values of tolerance, human dignity and other noble goals. Often they write names of family members who perished in the Holocaust.

 

Participants emerge from the March of the Living and an intense emotional and physical journey through Poland and Israel with a stronger sense of Jewish identity and a clearer understanding of what it means to be Jewish. 

 

The high point of the journey is celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel -- Israel's Independence Day -- along with the entire country.

January 27, 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz- Birkenau. Click here to learn more about the commemoration ceremonies.
 

OF INTEREST

Hatred, the Holocaust and the new refugee crisis

This weekend, Justin Trudeau is visiting Auschwitz with a Canadian survivor. Holocaust survivors are teaching the lessons of history to new generations, even as they hear echoes of the past in the rise of the xenophobic right in Europe.

https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/07/10/revisiting-europes-heart-of-darkness.html

Justin Trudeau pays emotional visit to Auschwitz 

Canadian Holocaust survivor Nate Leipciger tells PM how he survived death camp

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-poland-1.3672380

Elie Wiesel’s legacy went beyond Holocaust: Porter

In spring I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau with the March of the Living and got a deeper appreciation of how he responded to it.

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/07/08/elie-wiesels-legacy-went-beyond-holocaust-porter.html

March of the Living 2016

Birkenau 2014

3 generations of the Cohen/Werde family speak about this moving and unforgettable experience.

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"The March of the Living was, for me, a life altering experience. I come from a miniscule Jewish community, which is partially the reason that I don’t keep Shabbat, I don’t fast on Yom Kippur and I can’t remember more than the first line of the Shema. But that was before I went on the March. Searching for my Jewish identity has been a lifelong process, but never more real then when I travelled to Poland.

 

To be standing where my Jewish brothers and sisters stood, to pray at their graves, to return to the country where the Jewish identity was almost erased... it brought me to awareness beyond anything I have ever experienced. Suddenly, being Jewish and taking part in the traditions that identify me as such became essential. Raising my kids Jewish, sharing the stories, the legends and the horror and never bowing my head or ignoring hateful comments is now part of who I am. I can’t imagine life without waking up every morning to Israeli flags, to the Shema, to the knowledge that I am not alone and never will be. Judaism has become intrinsic to my life and my future.

 

The things I saw will always plague me. I will always remember the ocean of ashes at Mejdonik, the shoes at Aushwitz, the smell of death and leather and the silence of Treblinka. I will always be haunted by those ghosts. But it gives me strength to fight a loss of faith every day, and to find hope in David and Alex’s strength. I speak to them regularly, and I look up to them in every way. Their courage and dignity gives me hope in humanity after encountering the capacity for evil in an entire generation's history.

 

Israel is now home; I plan to make Aliyah when I’m older, to return to the land that makes me bless every step I take. The March of the Living is an experience that will stay with me forever, every day, and every hour of my life. The profound impact of seeing ten thousand fellow Jews, a river of blue, coursing like a vein of life through a place chocked with death will never leave me. Am Israel Chai."


Natasha B., Participant on the Coast-to-Coast bus 2012

"Israel was an absolutely integral part of the trip for me. After touring the horrors of the Holocaust in Poland, mentally and emotionally I needed to see and experience the rebirth of Jewish culture and identity in Israel. Being in Israel helped to ground the experience and gave us tangible hope and light after bearing witness to a history of destruction."

Susan K.

"I strongly believe the March of the Living increased my sense of Jewish identity. I much more proud of my Jewish heritage and thus am much more inclined to defend it whether that be through participating in activities supporting a Jewish cause or simply educating people around me about what we as a people are all about."

Rob S.

"MOL made me proud to be Jewish and to defend Judaism and Israel whenever necessary. I was motivated to become educated on the history of Israel in more detail, in order to avoid ignorance and to be able to convey Israel's light to anyone in an effective way."

Bruce K.