March of the living 2019 - Rebecca Lewis and Dana Winter

As part of our role as UJS Sabbatical Officers, we received many different opportunities throughout the year to support our students. One of these opportunities has been our recent trip to Poland, to participate on March of the Living as part of the student bus.

Rebecca has been focusing on Holocaust Education this year, whereas Dana was able to caption this trip through her communications focus to bring it closer to potential future participants. The trip was a 5-day long journey through out Poland, starting off in Warsaw and finishing in in Krakow, with the international March of the living on the final day, which marks Yom HaShoah. We were part of the largest ever British delegation, with almost 300 participants, and part of almost 11000 people who marched from Auschwitz I to Auschwitz Birkenau to commemorate Yom HaShoah with a ceremony there.

This trip was challenging in many ways: trying to understand how such a genocide could have been possible is something beyond our emotional and intellectual abilities. We can try as hard as possible to understand it, but it won’t be possible. The atrocities of Nazi Germany to an innocent group of people are, just not comprehensible. Our ancestors who have not survived or had to fight for their lives during the Holocaust have felt a pain that we cannot describe, and all we can do is try to be there for them.

After our return, two main feeling arose: on the one hand, we developed a deep sense of gratitude. We are grateful that we are alive, that we have enough to eat, that we have a roof over our heads and that we can express our identity. The whole trip put everything into perspective, showing us how the little things we complain about every day actually don’t matter. On the other hand, we came back with a huge desire to continue educating about this topic. Our faith in humanity was deeply challenged, and the only wat to overcome this is to continue educating. We were privileged to be joined on our bus by Mala Tribich MBE, originally from Poland, who survived different concentration camps throughout the Holocaust. Sharing this experience with Mala was incredibly special. We learned from her that listening to Holocaust survivors is important, but what is even more important is that through hearing the stories of witnesses, we become witnesses and must continue to educate others. Knowledge is power and this is the only way we can continue to fight antisemitism and work to ensure this never happens again.

The trip brought up many different emotions in us, we learned more than could be put into a few words. We were grateful to be part of an intelligent group of students, who challenged our opinions and lead us to deep discussions.

If you have not been to Poland yet, we urge you to go. The survivors will not be here forever; it is so important to hear t them share their testimonies first hand, whilst we still can. The responsibility to educate others now falls on our shoulders, we are the generation that needs to ensure the Holocaust is not forgotten. We have the responsibility to ensure, never ever again. 

About UJS

We are the voice of over 8,500 Jewish students, spanning 60 Jewish Societies (J-Socs) on campuses across the UK and Ireland. We are traditional, progressive, cultural and spiritual; we come from the left, centre and right and can be found across religious and political spectrums.

Together we create and deliver powerful campaigns; fighting prejudice, advancing inclusion, and inspiring education and action on the issues that matter to us. 

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