PC Students Look Forward to March of the Living Trip
On April 19th, thousands of individuals from around the world, including many Pine Crest seniors, will arrive in southern Poland for the 2017 March of the Living. Founded in 1988, March of the Living is an annual, international educational program dedicated to giving students the opportunity to understand the full context of the Holocaust while visiting many sites associated with this mass atrocity. During this unique experience, students study the roots of the prejudice, intolerance, and hatred that led to the Holocaust. They hope to strengthen their Jewish identity and better prepare themselves to fight against anti-Semitism. Their examination of prejudice and anti-Semitism will involve meeting with Holocaust survivors, visiting concentration camps, and learning about the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. As a tribute to the eleven million victims of the Holocaust, the Polish leg of the trip will culminate in a 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau as well as a trip to the Jewish homeland.
In the Israel portion, the seniors will celebrate Israeli independence and commemorate the struggle of the people who have dedicated their lives to defending Israel, all while meeting other Jewish people from around the world. During the trip to Israel, students will also join their fellow participants in mourning fallen soldiers and the victims of terror, hate, and prejudice. “March of the living was an incredible experience that completely changed my perspective on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. The raw exposure from the trip makes it intensely personal and reminds you how precarious the Jewish existence is and always will be.” said Josh Tartell, an alumnus of Pine Crest. Many seniors were also extremely grateful for the opportunity to meet and be able to speak with survivors. “During the trip, we have the privilege of getting to spend time and share experiences with actual Holocaust survivors,” said Bryce Bloom, “which is something I will always remember since there aren’t many survivors left right now.”
Upper School faculty also recognized the impact of March of the Living on Pine Crest seniors and spoke about the importance of teaching students to recognize symbols of hate and prejudice. “March of the Living proves to be a life-altering experience that awakens and strengthens empathy, compassion, and a stronger sense of community and justice. These are traits essential for our students’ moral as well as ethical development,” said Mr. Perez, “I believe all of us should live our lives vigilant to the attitudes and messages that history has shown can lead to actions such as the atrocities of the Holocaust.” Another faculty member, iLab director Matthew Trask, talked about preventing genocides and atrocities similar to the Holocaust. Mr. Trask said, “Before visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., it was hard to truly grasp the sheer extent and damage of the Holocaust. Firsthand exposure to the atrocities is the best way to increase awareness about Holocaust and, subsequently, prevent it from happening again.” As March of the Living approaches, seniors are beginning to prepare for this profoundly moving, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and with just three weeks left before their departure, many of them are eagerly anticipating their spiritually and culturally enriching pilgrimage.