According to Shayna Chazin, “No one ever regrets going on the March of the Living — they just regret missing it.”
Chazin has been heavily involved as a volunteer with the March of the Living – Southern Region — which has a territory including all of Palm Beach and Martin counties — for the past 10 years
The March of the Living – Southern Region is based on the Boca Raton campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
“The March changed my Jewish future and caused me to be so much more active in Jewish organizations,” said Chazin, who now lives in Boca Raton, but lived in West Palm Beach when she went on the March as a sophomore at Palm Beach Lakes High School in 1990. “I still remember being in Poland and everyone suddenly broke into a Jewish song. That cemented for me my Jewish heartbeat and made me so proud to be Jewish.”
The March of the Living is a two-week international educational program that each year brings Jewish high school juniors and seniors (and adults ages 27 and above) from all over the world to Poland on Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) — where they march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II.
Among the goals of the March is for these young people and adults to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and to lead the Jewish people into the future vowing “Never Again” to let another Holocaust happen.
“Each year we bring thousands of Jews to this place where Jews were murdered just for being Jewish,” Chazin said. “This proves that our ancestors didn’t die in vain. We bring together Jews from all different walks of Jewish life. It doesn’t matter what kind of Jew you are — if you are Jewish, you are Jewish. We all go together.”
Other goals of the March are to:
• Instill in students a love for; an appreciation for; and connection to: the Jewish people in every land, throughout the ages and in contemporary times.
• Provide students with the knowledge to defend Israel and to solidify their love of the Jewish state.
Many of the students who go on the March’s student trip come from the two Jewish high schools in Boca Raton — the Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy and Katz Yeshiva High School.
Leah Avni, of West Palm Beach, for example, went on the 2014 March as a senior at Yeshiva High School (then called Weinbaum Yeshiva High School).
“I had always gone to Jewish day schools, so I had heard all about the Holocaust ever since the third grade,” Avni said. “And I have three grandparents who are survivors. But, I really didn’t get what they had to do to survive the Holocaust until I went to Poland and saw things there for myself.
“We are the last generation that will get to go on the March accompanied by actual survivors. Anyone considering going on the March should take advantage of this incredible opportunity.”
However, there are also a significant number of students who go on the March from public high schools.
Among those are Elana Deutch, from Boynton Beach, who went on the 2014 March as a junior at G-Star School of the Arts, and Zoe Weiss, from Lake Worth, who went on the 2011 March as a senior at Palm Beach Central High School.
Deutch said the March taught her to go through life doing everything you can because you never know what might happen.
“I was worried all the day school kids would stick to themselves,” Deutch said, “but they were really cool about meeting new people and we felt like one big family on the trip.”
Weiss says she thinks she may be the only one from her high school ever to have gone on the March.
“Going on the March got me back to my Jewish roots,” Weiss said. “And it gave me many experiences to share at school to educate my non-Jewish classmates.
“If you are in public school, you don’t get taught much about the Holocaust. Going on the March allowed me to share my experiences with my schoolmates — who were surprised and shocked by some of the things I saw and experienced on the March.”
The Adult 5-Star March of the Living trip includes all 5-Star hotels, food and buses — and intersects with the teen tour at meaningful points in Poland.
Dr. Barry R. Weiss, of Boca Raton, went on the Adult Bus in 2015 and, like many of the students, wasn’t fully prepared for what he saw on the trip.
“I did a lot of independent research — reading books, watching documentaries, going to lectures — and I really thought I knew what to expect,” Weiss said. “But, I wasn’t even close. Until you see these things up close, you can’t even imagine what they are like. It was a really powerful experience. I will never forget this trip.
“One moment that really stands out for me is when I was coming home from Friday night services wearing a yarmulke (religious head covering). It struck me that I was wearing a yarmulke in Warsaw 70 years after all those Jews were murdered there.”
The 2017 March of the Living trip for high school juniors and seniors will be from April 19 to May 3, 2017 — and the 5-star adult trip will be from April 20 to May 3, 2017. Full educational preparation is offered before the trip. Registration is open until Nov. 20.
For more information, including costs (generous scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify), or to register, visit www.molsouth.org. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-852-6013.
Originally Published HERE