Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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March of the Living

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

War2My daughter has joined the March of the Living, a yearly trip of Jewish youth to Holocaust sites, taking place in Poland right now.

We’ve reached the point where the last of the Holocaust survivors are leaving this world, and they are those who were children during the Holocaust.

Prior to the trip these Jewish Israeli yeshiva high school seniors speak with survivors, visit Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum in Israel) and research their own family histories.  They get counseling and travel together with a Holocaust survivor (though that option is passing, and the survivor they are traveling with is in her late 80’s), teachers, counselors and special security.

The picture above is of my father-in-law, a”h, a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp.

My daughter did her research and found of her grandfather and his brothers and sisters… who was murdered for being a Jew, who survived ghettos, concentration camps, and even one member who escaped and joined the partisans.

Our communication during the trip is limited (as she doesn’t want to end up with huge cell phone bill from roaming fees), just a few brief notes via SMS.  Here’s what she sent me yesterday…

Tatti (Dad), I could use some cheering up.  Today we went to Auschwitz-Birkenau (death and extermination camp).  We walked in the gas chambers.  I stood where great aunt Ita was killed…

…I had a breakdown.

What can a person say?  How can one respond to that?  (Note they do have counselors with them.)  Here’s what I sent back…

Not sure how to cheer you up after that.  But you being there, being Jewish, being from Israel is their (the victims) revenge.

Celebrate life, celebrate being Jewish, so the evil ones know their goals are useless.

Below, a picture of my father-in-law, a”h, with a Jewish cheder (religious school group) he started in the Feldafing Displaced Persons Camp for Holocaust Survivors.  Some of the boys are still in their concentration camp uniforms, the only clothes they’ve known and have.  Some, if you look close, still have stick-like arms.  This is a year after the war’s end.



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