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March of the Living – April 2017

I want to draw your attention this week to a wonderful program our community offers for our teens.

March of the Living which has been around since 1986 is a program that strives to educate our teens about our recent history. The program takes teens for an educational tour of Poland and Israel at the very moments when the world is commemorating Yom HaShoah U’Gevorah, the Holocaust Memorial Day and Yom Hazikaron/Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The March of the Living will bring together over 10,0000 Jewish teens from over 40 countries and regions around the world including Israel, USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, South Africa, France, England, Hungary and Poland.

Teens that participate will share in a once in a lifetime experience when they march three kilometers from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built by the Nazis during World War II. The experience for teens will be in direct contrast to the tragic fate of hundreds of thousands of Jews and others, who were forced by the Nazis to take part in the infamous death Marches, across vast expanses of European terrain, under the harshest of conditions. This time, however, there will be a difference. It will be a March of the Living, with thousands of Jewish youth, marching shoulder to shoulder.

The stay in Poland and Israel is a study in contrasts. In Poland teens will search for traces of a world that no longer exists. The century old Nozyk synagogue (used by the Nazis as a stable during the war) and the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery – the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe – are among the only reminders of the glorious Jewish life that once thrived there. Yet, teens will also have moments of hope in Poland as they encounter a resurgence of Jewish culture. Our teens will meet with Polish peers and witness a blossoming of new synagogues, schools, organizations and youth groups. In Israel our teens will encounter a country that is striving valiantly to keep the age-old flame of Jewish nationhood alive. On Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, they will join together with all of Israel as they mourn their fallen soldiers and victims of terror and on Yom Ha’atzmaut they will celebrate Israel’s independence along with the entire country. The March of the Living to Poland and Israel will cause our teens to encounter both the richness and anguish of our past and the hope for our future. This experience will help them understand how important both aspects are to their identity as Jewish teenagers living in the 21st century.

The teens will be accompanied by educators, survivors, medical professionals, political and community leaders.

Las Vegas area high school students who will be in the 11th and 12th grades are eligible to participate. All qualified applicants will be screened. Not everyone can be accepted. Applicants must complete an application and medical form, submit an essay, participate in a personal interview and supply letters of recommendation. If you are chosen, you will be provided with a study of curriculum of Poland and Israel and will be expected to attend educational seminars that have been specifically created to prepare you for the March. There are generous scholarships for the program.

For more information about the next March of the Living, please contact Carol at Temple Beth Sholom at 702.804.1333.

The program is generously sponsored by Jewish Nevada and the The Audrey Merkin Memorial Scholarship Fund of Temple Beth Sholom.

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