NEW YORK, April 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The International March of the Living, an annual program to be held on Monday, April 8, 2013, brings 10,000+ high school students from around the world for a week of intensive education and touring in Poland to study the history of the Holocaust and examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate. Its aim is to impart the lessons of the Holocaust, celebrate the history of Jewish survival, and instill a passion for social justice. Instead of learning just from books, the literal facts on the ground become their laboratory. To date, over 185,000 students have participated in the program. This memorable journey starts in Poland just prior to Yom HaShoah-Holocaust Memorial Day-and continues in Israel where participants honor Israel's fallen soldiers on Yom Hazikaron-Israel's Memorial Day and celebrate Israel's Independence on Yom Ha'Atzmaut.
The March of the Living itself, a 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau, is a silent tribute to all victims of the Holocaust. The March is scheduled to begin at 1pm - starting under the iconic sign ARBEIT MACHT FREI and the ceremony at Birkenau will take place at 3:45pm (Polish time). NOTE: Members of the Press are invited to join the VIP delegation meeting up at 11am under the iconic sign ARBEIT MACHT FREI at the entrance to Auschwitz.
This March joined by thousands of Jewish teens, adults and survivors from around the world, serves as a hopeful counterpoint to the experience of hundreds of thousands of Jews forced by the Nazis to cross vast expanses of European terrain under the harshest of conditions—the infamous "death marches."
For the first time in its 25 year history, the ceremony at Auschwitz will be broadcast LIVE. Solemn and uplifting musical interludes will be performed throughout emphasizing the themes of prayer, resistance, remembrance and hope and in honor of the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A song written by March of the Living alumni entitled, "Requiem of the Warsaw Ghetto," will be featured and renowned Jewish soul-singer Neshama Carlebach will be performing. The program will be led by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo, and will also include a message from Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Rabbi Lau, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, was himself a child survivor of the Holocaust. Joining him on the podium will be Jewish communal leader and philanthropist, Frank Lowy of Australia, a Holocaust survivor whose father perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau and whose family has dedicated a memorial there. Also speaking to the participants will be Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, son of a Holocaust survivor, and Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress.
To close the program, six torches will be lit, each reflecting a theme that will pay tribute to the 6,000,000 lives lost:
- to those who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust
- to the survivors who picked up the pieces of their shattered world and began life anew
- to the rabbis, scholars, teachers and students who perished
- to the 1,500,000 innocent Jewish children who were murdered by the Nazis
- to the second generation who never had the privilege of knowing or loving their grandparents
- to the celebration of the establishment of the State of Israel
Participating in the Torch Lighting Memorial Ceremony will be Tami Hausner-Raveh, Chair of Israel's Channel 2 News Broadcast and daughter of Gideon Hausner, Chief Prosecutor at the Eichmann Trial; Michael-Miki Gilad, Chief Inspector, 06 Unit of the Police and Chief Assistant at the Eichmann Trial (subject of the famous movie "The 81st Blow"); Lt. General Benny Ganz, IDF Chief of Staff and son of a Holocaust survivor; Mark Siwiec, Chairman of European Friends of Israel (EFI); Vladimir Sloutsker, President of the Israeli Jewish Congress (IJC), and Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), who will light a torch specifically memorializing the 1,100,000 plus victims, mainly Jews, who entered Auschwitz on foot but only left as ashes through chimney stacks.
"Nothing I saw prepared me for Auschwitz," said Ambassador Lauder after an earlier visit. "For the first time, I truly understood not only the Holocaust but also what it was like to be a Jew in pre-war Europe. My involvement with the March of the Living continues to be a most rewarding and gratifying experience, because it creates hope for a Jewish future among a new generation of young Jews."
Participants in this year's International March of the Living will visit such places as the Gensha Cemetery, Treblinka, Warsaw's Nozak Synagogue, the newly opened Museum of the History of Polish Jews where they will be the first visitors, Krakow's Ghetto, Majdanek, and Schindler's Factory. The group will also stop in Plonsk, Poland, for a special dedication ceremony of the David Ben Gurion Square, in honor of the city's most famous citizen. This project was inspired by Aharon Tamir, March Deputy World Chairman & General Director, Poland and Israel Projects.
The March of the Living touches the lives of Jewish and non-Jewish youth from around the world, taking them on a life-changing journey. During the trip, students are exposed to the richness of Jewish life in pre-war Europe, taught critically important lessons of the Holocaust and are given the opportunity to form a profound connection to the Land and the People of Israel.
The leadership of the International March of the Living consists of: Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman and CEO; Shlomo Grofman, Board Vice Chairman; Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Chair of the International Advisory Board; Dr. David Machlis, Vice Chairman; Eli Rubenstein, Director of Education.
SOURCE The International March of the Living