The International March of the Living (motl.org) has scheduled its next annual educational program for April 28. The program, now in its 25th year, brings together more than 10,000 high-school students from around the world for a week of intensive education and touring in Poland and Israel, to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance, and hate. Its aim is to impart the lessons of the Holocaust, celebrate the history of Jewish survival, and instill a passion for social justice. This memorable journey starts in Poland just prior to Yom HaShoah and continues in Israel, where participants honor Israel’s fallen soldiers on Yom HaZikaron and celebrate the country’s independence on Yom HaAtzmaut.
April 2014 will also mark a tragic anniversary–70 years since the deportation and destruction of Hungarian Jewry during the Holocaust. With this anniversary in mind, 1,000 Jews–from Budapest and around the world–will gather in Hungary’s capital to participate in a moving program the Shabbat in advance of the march, April 25—26. On Sunday, April 27, they will then travel to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train to mirror the deportation 70 years earlier of the over half-million Hungarian Jews–the vast majority of whom never returned. This parallel journey will serve as a strong testament to the strength of the Jewish community and the continuation of Hungarian Jewry. On Yom HaShoah, April 28, all participants in the March of the Living will march the 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau for a ceremony where Hungarian Jewry will be specifically commemorated.
“We were convinced that anti-Semitism perished here [at Auschwitz],” Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, stated at a previous March of the Living ceremony. “Anti-Semitism did not perish. Its victims perished here.” In fact, Hungary remains a country plagued by intolerance, and it is among the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe, despite Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s strong denunciations of anti-Semitism and other recent statements by officials in Hungary’s ruling party.
“On this 70th anniversary that marks such a tragic abyss in human history, we all need to be reminded that abandoning indifference and ambivalence in the presence of evil is the one true way to fight against injustice and suffering–wherever it resides,” explained Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the International March of the Living.
Over 190,000 students have participated in the March of the Living, which takes Jewish and non-Jewish youth from around the world, and from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds, on a life-changing journey. During the trip, these students are exposed to the richness of Jewish life in pre-war Europe, taught critically important lessons of the Holocaust, and are given the opportunity to form a profound connection to the Land and the People of Israel. v