March of the Living attendance decreases

Sophie Haber

Only four students from the senior class, a sharp decrease from past years, traveled to Poland and Israel on the annual March of the Living April 19-May 3 to learn about the history of prejudice, intolerance and hate.
Student involvement has shown a downward trend, with 12 attendees last year and 22 the year prior.
Because of the trip’s close proximity to AP tests and spring break this year, students may have been less inclined to sign up.
Rabbi Emily Feigenson said this may be because there is no longer any outreach to the sophomore and junior classes, so less students were aware of the opportunity to attend as they were in past years.
In the future, Feigenson said she may restart her effort to raise awareness about the program in lower grades by showing a documentary made by Jessica Sanders ’95 about the march.
While in Poland, students will go to Krakow, Lublin and Warsaw, accompanied by Holocaust survivors who act as their guides when they visit the concentration camps Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdenek and Treblinka, as well as Jewish ghettos, mass graves and other historical sites.
“I feel an obligation to learn about the horrific history that came with the Holocaust and gain a more authentic understanding of the consequences that came of discrimination and hate,” Jordan Khorsandi ’17 said.
On the Jewish holiday Yom Hashoa, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, students will march a mile alongside survivors and other students from around the world from the gates of Auschwitz concentration camp to Birkenau death camp to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.
“I know that I will be one of the last people to truly be able to leave the grounds of Auschwitz with Holocaust survivors, and I think the only way to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive is to learn the stories first hand so that I can teach it to my children,” Maddy Harbert ’17 said. “That way we will never forget what happened.”
After walking in the footsteps of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, students will travel to Israel to celebrate Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron and Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. There, they will tour different cities, visit beaches.
In addition to being an opportunity for high school seniors to make connections with teens from around the world, the March of the Living acts as an catalyst for reflection and introspection, its website said.
“I’m hoping to get out of it a deeper understanding of my Judaism and lineage, as I’m very interested to know what my ancestors were like and who they were,” Harbert said.