For Jason Sraberg, Westmark High School ’22, participating in the March of the Living had a profound impact on his life:
I was hesitant to participate in the BJE MOL trip as I did not know anyone and felt it would be an overwhelming trip for me my second semester of my senior year of high school. But my parents encouraged me because they said it would be a life changing experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect with my ancestry and my elderly grandfather Alexander Loewinger, who is a Holocaust survivor. I am grateful he is still alive today, and I've heard many stories but to connect on this deeper level would be extra special.
For me, the highlights included Yad Vashem, visiting Jerusalem and the Western Wall (both during the day with thousands of other visitors as well at night when it was quiet and the sky was full of stars) and meeting a whole new group of BJE friends! I also thought it was cool to write postcard letters to ourselves which we will receive next year (when at college) and I know it will bring back a lot of great memories for me.
Before this trip, I really wasn’t very connected except for the high holidays and family dinners but since the trip, I have been attending Friday night Shabbat services, interested in the Jewish community here in Los Angeles and already signed up for the Hillel Center next year at college. I am also super close with the friends I made on the trip and know we will be connected for the rest of our lives.
At some point, I still hope to go to Eastern Europe/Poland/Hungary and Romania to see where my grandfather originally came from and visit the concentration camps in person. My grandfather is now 93 years old and since having a stroke, he isn’t able to communicate very well but thankfully, we recorded his “testimony” ten years ago and these tapes and his writings will last forever. His personal story is heart breaking (being separated from his parents, working the labor camps, no food, no clothes, no family, no freedom) but he is also a hero and has the most positive and uplifting perspective on being strong and to keep fighting on! I owe it to him, my ancestors and the 6 million Jews that died in the Holocaust to pay my respects, to walk in their shoes, to feel the same dirt and breathe the same air he did nearly 80 years ago. - Jason Sraberg
Photo is of Jason Sraberg and his grandfather, Alexander Loewinger