Learning to Stand Up for Oneself and Others

More than 130 high school seniors from Jewish and non-sectarian private and public schools across the Greater Los Angeles area are registered to join BJE's 2024 teen March of the Living 2024 delegation. In preparation, BJE educators recently conducted the first of three Farber Workshops, orientation sessions designed to prepare students and families for what they can expect.
The goals of this year’s BJE MOTL educational experience for teens include:
1.    Ensuring that they are witnesses to experiences of the Holocaust.
2.    Learning about Jewish life in Poland today.
3.    Completing the trip with strengthened Jewish identity and pride.
Identity Examined:
To kick off working toward these goals, the first pre-trip session, held on Sunday, March 10, included exercises in self-examination and conversation about the ways in which participants would each describe their identity as human beings.
“Each year, we work to connect our teens to their Jewish roots and identity. This year, more than ever, we are examining what it means to be Jewish in the world,” said Abby Cutler, BJE Director of Teen Experiential Education. “We know that being Jewish may mean something different than it did before the horrific events of October 7, and we want to help our group feel proud of their heritage and their community.”
A Personal "Courage Action Plan"
The second program focus was on what it means to stand up for oneself, for another or for something. This was followed by a worksheet exercise by which each teen began to develop a personal action plan for standing up with courage when a relevant situation arises.
When asked what courage means to them, our participants defined it as “having resilience to push yourself beyond your boundaries” and “being able to stand up for yourself or others, even when the odds may be against you.”
A highlight of the program was the presence of Eva Perlman, a Holocaust survivor who shared the story of her life, which she describes as “a series of miracles.”
These pre-trip learning sessions are meant to lay the groundwork for BJE’s March of the Living journey. Whatever background knowledge students bring, they all enter better prepared for what they’re going to experience.
This year, the BJE delegation is very fortunate to include Gabriella Karin, a Holocaust survivor. Gabriella, who has accompanied L.A. teens on past BJE March of the Living journeys, will be accompanied by Ellen Geminder, daughter of Bob Geminder, a survivor and beloved part of the BJE program for years. Additionally, a grandchild and great-grandchild of Sidonia Lax, a survivor who traveled with the group for many years, will travel with the group and share her story.
For more information about BJE March of the Living, contact Abby Cutler.  BJE will share the Instagram pages for the trip before the departure for anyone interested in following their experiences.