The March of the Living is an annual educational program, which brings students from all over the world to Poland, in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. Since the first March of the Living was held in 1988, over 200,000 participants, from 35 countries, have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
(names have been deleted at the request of the family)
Following are the remarks delivered at a community rally in support of Israel this week.
I’m the mother of a Lone Soldier. The bravest man I know. He’ll be celebrating his 21st birthday next week.
Three years ago he was actively sabotaging his college admissions process. Not the normal kind of slacking off you’d expect from a high school senior – we found out from his guidance councilor that he was doing things that would have kept him from getting into college. He told us that he didn’t want to go right away and that he needed to join the Israeli Army.
He first told us when he was a sophomore in High School, and then again during the summer after his junior year. But I didn’t listen. The follwing year, he participated in the March of the Living travelling to Poland and Israel. Many days, he spent visiting the death camps. Outside Auschwitz, he called me to say that he’d made a promise to G-d. Standing in one of the gas chambers, he vowed that he would do whatever it takes to make sure nothing like this would ever happen again.
The Fall came and so did school. I didn’t have time to think a lot about that conversation—yet it was always in the back of my mind. Until the day we got the call from the guidance counselor. My husband and I realized we had to take him seriously. Our son agreed to apply to college, as a back up plan in case things changed with his Army plan. We were hoping that the excitement of campus weekends and his friends getting into schools would make him change his mind.
The day he got his college acceptance letter, he came to us and said, “OK….I got in, now let’s talk about the Israeli Army.”
Well, I was in Israel this past June to watch him and hundreds of other Paratroopers receive their red berets and wings as they finished their training. I was so proud.
If you’d told me that six weeks later my 20 year old kid would be in a war, going house-to-house in Gaza spending every waking hour searching for – and finding – entrances to terrorist’s tunnels, avoiding booby traps, sleeping in abandoned buildings at night, I never would have believed it. But for the past few weeks, that was his reality as a soldier, and mine as a mother.
Yesterday he returned to his kibbutz and I spoke with him this morning. He reaffirmed his commitment to Israel and his choice of making aliyah. The Galilee he said, “is the most beautiful place on earth, why would I ever leave?”
He is truly very courageous, and he believed that by joining the IDF he would become part of something much greater than himself, something that transcends just this moment in time. And he’s right. He’s idealistic – in a way that only 20 year olds can be.
He’s joined by thousands of other Lone Soldiers and tens of thousands of Israeli kids just as brave and idealistic as he is –kids who have willingly put themselves into harms way for us and putting Klal Yisroel above all else. Not for $240 a month in salary. Not just to defend a small country far away from Boston. For us, the Jewish people.
At age 18, when our son was standing in that death camp and made that vow, he knew that the Israeli Army IS the Jewish Army. And the future of the State of Israel IS the future of all Jews. There is no distance. There is no separation.
The fight of the Jewish people and all those who respect Democracy and Freedom will continue, until the people of Israel are permanently safe and secure from radical Islamic threat and terror.
As you know, Israel is currently facing tough times. Around the world, friends of Israel are standing together in support of the country, its army and its people.
Please see the short film below produced by March of the Living Hungary:
At this difficult time, we stand together with the people of Israel, with Jewish communities around the world – and with all people of good faith – to condemn this senseless act of violence and to express our undying commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel.
המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel
Los Angeles, California – May 7, 2014
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Please, please, everybody have a seat.
Well, thank you, Steven, for your incredibly generous words, for this great honor, for your friendship, and most importantly, for the extraordinary work which brings us here all tonight. To Robert Katz and all the members of the board and staff of the Shoah Foundation; to President Max Nikias and everybody at USC; to all the distinguished guests and to all the friends that I see in this audience — it is an incredible honor to be with you as we pay tribute to a remarkable institution and one that makes claim on our moral imagination. Read the full article…
You experienced something unique and powerful in your MOTL experience, which only those who have done it can truly understand. We know that feeling, as do thousands of others who have experienced MOTL like you did.
It’s a powerful shift which you’ll want to come back to in you over and over. Here’s where that begins, along with all the other Marchers who have experienced it.
For the 6 million. For humanity, and for yourself.
Capture the moment as a statement, a reflection, or a photo- so you can carry the torch as the last generation to hear the testimonies of survivors and honor the 6million with the world we create.
We’ll share your statement for you here, and then send your it back to you in intervals… in 2 weeks, in a year, in two years… with a simple question: “Where does it stir for you NOW? What do you want it to cause in your life and in the world?” Maybe just when you need it most.
You can edit or add back in to your statement as it grows with your experience and impact over time.
Your statement will connect you to a new movement, started by MOTL alumni, harnessing the power of our experience into voice, action and commitment toward a different future.
Together we can go beyond never again, to create a world where tolerance trumps hate.
Declare your voice, make your statement, become part of the movement. Make a moment now to take a stand… www.project6million.org
An amazing opportunity for Sophomore, Junior and Senior High School students to combine both renowned programs!
U.S. Executive Oﬃce
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Israel Oﬃce, Hod Hasharon Campus
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Hod HaSharon ISRAEL 45102