The March of the Living is a two-week educational trip in which teens and adults from all over the world travel from Poland to Israel to learn about the Holocaust and beyond. Participants visit concentration camps, tour cities in Poland and Israel and listen to stories about the Holocaust. The March of the Living proves that world Jewry outlived the Nazis and is still prevalent today.
On Yom HaShoah, thousands of teens and adults march the three-kilometer distance from Auschwitz to Birkenau. The goal of the march is not only to fight anti-Semitism, intolerance, injustice and indifference, but also to establish a sense a pride and heightened sense of Jewish identity in the participants who partake in the march.
When I first began my journey to Poland and Israel with BBYO’s teen delegation on the march, I was not sure what to expect and how I was going to react when we visited the concentration camps. If anything, I thought I was going to gain a better understanding of what the Jewish people had to endure during the Holocaust and what effect the Holocaust had on Europe and the world. However, after coming home, I know for sure that I will never be able to understand the entirety of the Holocaust and what the Jewish people and other victims had to endure.
Even though the march itself was very powerful for me, I was extremely moved when we visited the concentration camp of Majdanek. Today, Majdanek is the most well-preserved camp and could be up and running within 24 hours. With the camp being so well preserved, it truly felt as though we were not just visiting a concentration camp but that we were experiencing firsthand the remains of the atrocities of the Holocaust. This felt even more emotional and struck me harder than anything else we experienced before and after the trip. It was at Majdanek that I realized I would never be able to wrap my head around the entirety of the Shoah. However, after witnessing the remains of Majdanek and the other concentration camps, I can say that my Jewish identity and pride have been strengthened dramatically. I now know that we as Jews are capable of surviving and that the hope, hatikvah, is alive and real.
Evan Elkin is a senior at Friends School of Baltimore and a member of the Gideon AZA Northern Region East: Baltimore Council, serving as programming vice president. To learn more about BBYO or the March of the Living, contact the BBYO Baltimore Council program director, Danielle Hercenberg, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-559-3549.