MOTL Youth Blog 2018
Memories & reflections from the 2018 youth delegation
Today marks a day of rememberance, a day of sadness. Today is Yom Hashoah. On this day each year we commemorate the loss of all those who perished in the Holocast. Being in Poland right now really enhances and intensifies the meaning of this day. Today we will be doing the March Of the Living in congregation with Jews from all over the world. Young and old, short and tall, different languages and completely different worlds yet we all have one thing in common and it binds us together as one on this powerful day. We are all Jews walking for the purpose of those who can’t, for those who were destroyed by the atrocities of the war.
Our day began by traveling to RAMA cemetery, this journey consisted of traveling through the old ghetto of Krakow. There is now a memorial in the main square of what used to be the ghetto. This memorial consists of 60 empty chairs, the idea of empty chairs symbolizes an important message of a missing person. There were an average of 60 000 Jews that were lost in the city of Krakow. An empty chair conveys emotions of sadness and discomfort.
At the Krakow cemetery we're were told the story of Yosale. An immensely wealthy man who lived in the city. During the years of his life he was asked multiple times to share his wealth with the poor or organizations but he always refused. The people of the city could never understand why a man would be so cruel. They would hiss and throw stones at him. When Yosale passed away a man found himself at the doorstep of the town Rabbis house. "I have no money Rabbi, please can you help me" says the man. The Rabbi was puzzled as he thought the man had had a job for his whole life, what had happened now? The man explained that he was dependant on the money that was placed at his door step every Thursday. This continued to happen multiple times a day. It was established that Yosale the man who was disrespected to ultimate extremes was in fact supporting many families who in Krakow. The Rabbi then decided he wanted to be buried next to Yosale's grave. From this story I learnt that perception and understanding is vital and important. We judge as humans, we judge in less than a second just as the Nazis did in concentration camps when deciding the life of humans. As Jews we must do all we can do counter act all the atrocities performed during the Holocaust. We must learn to look deeper into situations, understand people and realize we never have the full view in any situation.
We then traveled to Aushwitz 1 for the annual March of The Living. When driving into the car park the number of the buses were even able to shock us all. Walking through to our starting position for the March we crossed paths with Jews from all over the world. The bustling excitement truly contradicted the emotions we felt as a group yesterday in the same place. The March began and we chose to start in silence. Walking out the gates of Aushwitz we began to sing. We sang songs of praise to God, freedom and unity. My connection grew closer with those who marched as the war ended, I felt as if we were one. My connection with the group also grew as we have learnt together, cried together and openly shared everything we feel with each other. United we marched from Aushwitz 1 to Aushwitz Birkenau for the one purpose of remembering and uplifting the souls of those who perished. We walked into Birkenau with the masses of Jews around us. For the first time I felt some kind of empathy with the Jews in the Holocaust. Yes we are Jews and are subject to threats constantly in our lives but to feel what the Jews of Birkenau felt walking through those gates not knowing their fate was simply impossible. Today walking through those gates I was overwhelmed with emotions because if today had been 70 odd years earlier that would be the fate of the 14 000 Jews in that camp today.
We were privileged to hear a survivor today. He stood on stage in his uniform from 70 years ago. His emotional story was incredible and moving to hear. The president of both Poland and Israel addressed the thousands of Jews. This showed me the importance of forgiveness and unity. That it is important not to hold grudges and move forward to do something positive by remembering.
Our bus ride to Warsaw was a long but meaningful one. Today was the first time we made use of the open mic and whoever wanted to, spoke about their feelings or what ever was on their mind. This allowed us all to grow closer together and discuss things that might trouble us instead of keeping them in. I love this system as I believe it is important to hear everyones point of view and see something from a different perspective.
Today was a day of growth, a day of celebration of life. Today was Yom HaShoah.