After two years during which COVID prevented the International March of the Living from taking place, the war in Ukraine presented a new wrinkle in BJE’s plans to resume March of the Living participation. The program highlight is an annual two-week experiential education journey for high school students during which they travel to Poland and Israel to learn about their Jewish past, present and future. BJE March of the Living has, each year, included several Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives in Los Angeles, post-World War II, an important element in bringing history to life for participating teens.
In light of the war in Ukraine and influx of millions of refugees to Poland, BJE March of the Living staff pivoted quickly to create a powerful program completely in Israel, instead; the group was the only delegation from the US that was able to make a trip happen. The delegation was extremely fortunate to be joined via Zoom by Holocaust survivors in Los Angeles who shared personal experiences about their lives with the teens. The BJE group also had the opportunity to meet in-person with a Holocaust survivor now living in Israel.
Even without the European portion of the trip, BJE was proud to fully satisfy the guiding philosophy of the program: to immerse participants in meaningful experiences that will prepare them for and propel them into adulthood ready to remember, educate and act.
The experiences included:
- Learning from several renowned educators about the Holocaust, and about new forms of antisemitism that students might confront on college campuses.
- Visiting Oskar Schindler’s grave and discussing what it means to be righteous, and what it means to judge others.
- Traveling to Lochamai HaGeta’ot, a kibbutz founded by Holocaust survivors, focused on the bravery and spirit of those who fought in the revolt, and how they built new lives for themselves in Israel.
- Observing Yom HaZikaron with the students at Yachad High School.
- Joining groups from Mexico, Ukrainian Olim (new immigrants to Israel) and others to march to the Kotel (Western Wall) on Yom HaAtzmaut, celebrating Israel’s Independence Day.
Don’t miss our next eblast for a personal reflection from one of the trip’s teen participants!
For more information about BJE March of the Living, visit us online, follow us on Instagram @bjemotl, or contact Abby Cutler, Director of Teen Experiential Education