From the Preface: In April 2006 I traveled to Poland as a participant on a March of the Living tour. Over the course of less than one week I visited the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau, Treblinka and Majdanek, as well as the killing fields of Tikocyn, and sites of the work camp at Placzow and the Warsaw Ghetto.
Walking the distance from Auschwitz to Birkenau as part of a retinue of nine thousand Jewish young people – on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day – was one of the most extraordinary events of my life. The entire week in Poland was both emotionally overwhelming and spiritually inspiring and healing. On one hand I could see the remnants of the torturous depravity of the Nazi extermination machine and only imagine the wretched suffering experienced by millions of Jewish men, women and children. On the other hand, I could feel the ancient resonance of medieval and early modern Ashkenazi Jewish life, and see the continued vibrancy of Judaism in the groups of young Jews who had come to Poland from countries all around the world.
For me personally, the most immediate and effective way to process the intensity of this week long experience was to write poetry, each and every day, usually right on the spot as we traveled through the various concentrations camps and memorial sites in Poland.
Poems of Life and Death is a compilation of poetry and photography emerging from my experience on March of the Living.
This 15 minute video tells the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising through the voices of the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Two Canadian fighters – Anna Heilman (of Ottawa) & Baruch Spiegel (of Montreal)- appear in the film. Both took part in the heroic uprising and their testimony in the film is quite eloquent.
January 27, 2013 – International Holocaust Remembrance Day Marking the 68th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz
On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, discovering the largest Nazi killing center in Europe. Auschwitz has become a symbol of the Holocaust, representing the depths of man’s inhumanity to man. Eighteen governments have legislated January 27 as an annual Holocaust Memorial Day. In November 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to mark January 27 as an international day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and urged member states to develop educational programs to impart the memory of this tragedy to future generations. Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies will be organized on the international, national, regional and local levels, including in universities and schools.
“First they came for the communists
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left to speak out for me.”
The plane touches down in Krakow where the air is cold and the sky fittingly gray. I present my passport at the customs check-point, am given a boxed lunch, and shortly thereafter become Student #12 on Coast to Coast Bus #2. Our tour guide takes us through the town and down to the river where we have lunch and learn about Jewish life in Krakow before the war started. We visit old synagogues and schools as well as the downtown where the city looks beautiful and the people are friendly. I ask myself, “How could this have happened here?”… as it turns out ,my question didn’t have an answer. (more…)
The Jerusalem Post, by Daniel K. Eisenbud, April 23, 2014 Hundreds of high school students to ride train from Budapest to Auschwitz to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the 70th anniversary of the mass deportation and murder of over 585,000 Hungarian Jews during World War II, hundreds of highschool students from across the globe [...]
The Forward, By Anna Goldenberg, April 09, 2014 Holocaust Plays Only Small Role in New Institution Dariusz Stola, the newly appointed director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, never seems to tire of discussing the groundbreaking institution’s most important mission. The bespectacled history professor, who is not Jewish, says the museum aims [...]
The New York Times, By Patrick Murphy April 7, 2014 Radical nationalist party’s 20% election success due in part to campaign to shed its anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric BUDAPEST (AFP) – Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party, describing itself as the EU’s “most successful radical nationalist party,” was celebrating gains in weekend elections on Monday after a campaign that sought [...]
Yad Vashem Name Recovery Project
Since 1955, Yad Vashem has worked to fulfill its mandate to preserve the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust by collecting their names, the ultimate representation of a person’s identity. Millions of victims remain unidentified. Yad Vashem urgently calls upon Jewish communities to recover their names through a worldwide Names Recovery Project. Unless we assume collective responsibility for completing this vital mission, some of them may be lost forever. This is a race against time, before those who remember them are no longer with us.
Just being in Israel was enough for me. To go from a place of Jewish suffering to a place of such happiness and pride – to realize just how much the Jewish people have overcome – was extremely inspiring. It left me feeling victorious!
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