Just Say Yes!

“When your 18 year old asks you to spend 2 weeks traveling with her, simply stated, you always say “yes”.  Little did I know that the trip she asked me to join her on was the most powerful and memorable trip of my life.

My daughter Madison elected to go on the March of the Living trip, along with some local friends, and about 10,000 other Jewish teens from around the world. They spend 1 week in Poland and 1 week in Israel. The Polish portion of the trip is very meaningful. You walk with Holocaust survivors on Holocaust Remembrance Day from Auchwitz to Berkinaw, and also visit the ghettos of Krakow, all of Warsaw, and many additional concentration and death camps. It is a hard week but one that is so important. With fewer Holocaust survivors living each year to describe the atrocities first hand, it is critical for the youth of our world to see firsthand that something that horrible could occur.

The teens on the trip were impressive. Very impressive. First of all, they self-selected for this trip. It isn’t an easy trip. It’s not like sightseeing and shopping in London and Paris. But you never heard a youth complain. They loved it. They loved the camaraderie of meeting other Jewish youth from around the US, and the world, and bonding. Some kids find their college roommates, or some lifelong friends.

The 2nd part of the trip was amazing. We flew at midnight from Poland to Israel. You should have heard the kids cheer and sing as they took off. It was their own mini-version of Exodus.

The kids adored all aspects of Israel. There were still tough parts of the trip, such as Israels Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron. We were at Mt. Herzl which highlighted Israel’s still precarious place in the world. I had never seen a cemetery with pictures of the deceased before, or with so many colorful and thoughtful decorations. However, when you saw how young the soldiers were in the pictures, you were struck with pangs of disbelief and heartbreak, and you quickly realized how Israel still needs our help.

Then we celebrated what was the best day of the trip, Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut. The kids marched again, however this time was not nearly as solemn as the March to Birkenaw. This was a celebration unlike anything you will see. Thousands of Jewish teens holding hands, singing and loving Israel while marching together to the Western Wall.

There are dozens of smaller stories and memories, from seeing the Oscar Schindler factory, to viewing the Book of Names, to climbing Masada at dawn. They all amount to a trip of a lifetime, and one I hope we all continue to urge our teenage Jewish youth to join.

If your child wants to go on the March of the Living, encourage them to do so. And if you are lucky enough to have them ask you to
attend, or are ok with your being a chaperone, drop everything and say “yes.””

Dan S.
Adult Participant
Harrisburg, PA

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