Alumni Reflections: Alan Dayan, Mexico 2018

And as we walked through the gates of Birkenau, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was being played. Just a guitar and a woman’s voice. And as we continued our stroll along the train tracks, on our left hand side laid that part of the camp where the women used to live. And suddenly my mind started to go somewhere. On our side of the barbed wire it was the year 2018. On the other side, the side where the barracks were, it was 1944. So there, across from where I’m marching, a group of women, with gray head scarfs and striped pajamas start listening to the music. And in their surprise, as they all stop doing what they’re doing, they lift their heads and there we are, a sea of white and blue souls, marching through those gates. And for a moment, our two worlds collide in the space-time conundrum. And then they just know. Through the music and the marchers, they instantly realize everything will be all right. For a millisecond, they feel no fear, no pain, no hunger, no sadness. There, on the other side, we have won their war, we have taken their revenge. We are their children, their husbands, their nation reborn from the ashes. They see us and we see them. We are their light and they are ours. And as the guitar strums through the chords and the woman sings the words, “Hallelujah” and the visitors make them feel something they haven’t felt in a long time. They feel human. They feel hope. They feel free.

And then I question myself: were they a product of my imagination, or was I a product of theirs? Somehow, I believe, the answer is: both.

Written by Alan Dayan from March of the Living Mexico, 2018