On Monday, January 29, the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations hosted a special ceremony to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day and honor the International March of the Living for 30 years of outstanding Holocaust-education programming. The event also launched the March of the Living’s photo exhibit at the UN headquarters titled “Witness: Passing the Torch of Holocaust Memory to New Generations,” which honors the experiences shared by the many Holocaust survivors and students who have participated in the March of the Living since its inception in 1988.
The evening, which incorporated spoken presentations, video tributes, and musical performances by past participants of the March of the Living, was attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, March of the Living’s Chairman Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, and President Phyllis Heidemann, tens of Holocaust survivors, and more than 30 UN ambassadors from around the world, including Poland and Germany.
“Over the past few days, we have witnessed dangerous attempts to distort the truth and rewrite history. Here, in the United Nations, the organ established precisely because of the greatest tragedy mankind has ever known, we have an even greater responsibility to remember those who perished and to preserve and protect the truth,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon during the event. “Every day, and especially on this day, it is our moral duty to do all in our power to ensure that history never repeats itself.”
The March of the Living’s photo exhibit, which will remain on display at the UN headquarters for several weeks, comprises a collection of 70 photos that depict both the travesties of the Holocaust and the impact of the immersive Holocaust education experience on youth from around the world.
“The transfer of the torch of Holocaust memory and the heroism of the survivors to our youth has always been the primary mission of the March of the Living. This exhibition reflects the connections that have been forged with the youth over numerous trips and emphasizes the legacy and message of Elie Wiesel: ‘When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.’ This is especially important today as waves of anti-Semitism are rising in the world and neo-Nazi groups are rearing their heads,” explained March of the Living Chairman Dr. Shmuel Rosenman.
During her address, Phyllis Heideman, president of the March of the Living, urged all in attendance to dissuade others of the notion that the Holocaust is just a distant historical event, and work to educate them that it is a perpetual symbol of the darkness within. “The study of the Holocaust and its lessons is the last hope of all mankind. If we do not succeed in passing the torch of memory to future generations throughout the world, the lesson will never be learned, and our very humanity will hang in the balance.”
In addition to the spirited performances of “Ani Maamin” and “Hatikvah” that opened and closed the evening respectively, the event also featured the debut of the stirring original song “The Last Survivor,” sung in Hebrew, English, and Arabic by Israeli performers Amir Benayoun, Miri Mesika, and David D’Or. See the performance at tinyurl.com/TheLastSurvivor.