Alumni Reflections: Hannah Schepps, Dallas, 2012

What is the name of the March of the Living Delegation / Group that you traveled with? Southwest Region, Dallas

Year(s) attended: 2012

What was the most memorable moment of your experience? Just after the march, I was walking with a Rabbi around Birkenau listening to the wisdom he was sharing with me. As we were walking past the barracks I hear all of the MOTL participants break out into the Israeli National Anthem. At the very same moment, I look into the sky and see the sun breaking through the clouds, shining directly on us. My words describing the moment don’t do any justice to the emotions that came flooding in that moment. March of the Living is probably the most influential thing for any Jewish person to experience. Every single aspect of it gives you insight into what we were, our destruction, and then our endurance through it all. Very often I think about that moment and the pride and appreciation of being a Jew I gained during that trip. It is because of the March I will never hide my Judaism and I will do everything in my power to ensure my children and their children carry on what our ancestors lived and died for. It is my duty as a Jew.

What impact did Poland have on you? Poland’s history is truly fascinating, especially when considering the human behavior behind it all. I don’t really have any desire to go back unless it is to pay my respects, but all that I saw and learned there will always be influential. It’s one thing to learn about the Holocaust, it’s another to actually see it.

What impact did Israel have on you? A lot. This experience in Israel set the tone for the numerous times I’ve been back. In Israel we learned that not everything comes easy, and if you want something you have to work for it with your ALL. And they also taught that once you achieve your goal, you should celebrate it and appreciate it. Being in Israel for Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzma’ut had always been on my bucket list, and everyone (even non-Jews) should experience this. This is how a country should celebrate its independence. There is nothing like it and I can’t wait to do it again.

How were you impacted by the overall experience? It is a foundation I hold on to, even 5 years later. The knowledge and experiences still hold importance in my life. Like many people, I struggle with faith, but I truly believe that it is due to these kinds of experiences that push me to be better and stronger.