March of the Living

While traveling to northern Israel, we stopped along the Jordan Valley at a memorial to hear from one of our bus drivers, a retired Colonel in the Israeli army. He told of the three-year terrorism that occurred there in the late 1960’s and related other historical events that occurred. When asked if he still lived in the area, he said that he and his family will always live there.

We have had a rollercoaster of feelings the past two days. Our trip to Majdanek was when the reality of the Holocaust took on a new meaning for all of us. This extermination camp is right in the center of the town of Lublin and it was the one camp that was not hidden in secrecy or subterfuge. The fact that it is exactly as it was when liberated and can be up and running within 48 hours made the visit all the more horrific.

We began our day on Friday with a visit to the Okopowa Cemetery, the only Jewish cemetery in Warsaw and the largest in Poland. Established in 1806, the site contains 300,000 graves and burials are still held there. Teens saw how the stones were uniquely designed to represent various persons (tzedakah box for a charitable person, candlesticks for a woman). Two large stones are also there to represent BBYO’s restoration and clean-up work at the cemetery.