Over 800 Jewish students from Russia participated in the annual “March of Living” that commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland’s Auschwitz concentration camps. This is the largest group of Russian Jewish students and youngsters to ever participate in the ceremony.
Students are visiting the concentration camp complex as part of their end-of-the-year EuroStars trip that concludes two semesters of Jewish program studies. The week-long trip is focused on learning about anti-Semitism in the Middle Ages and in recent history. The group consists of young people aged 18 to 26 from 35 Russian cities.
In Auschwitz, the group learned about the history of the camp, from the beginning of WW2 to its liberation, and honored the memory of the Jews who perished there. During the commemoration ceremony, Rabbi Berel Lazar, chief rabbi of Russia, addressed the group: “We are standing in the place of the most horrific genocide in modern history. These people died as Jews, because they were Jewish. Our answer to that is to live like Jews! Every new Jewish family is the reply to those who wanted to destroy our people.” The students placed stones and flowers on the memorial, and, as part of the emotional ceremony, young couples, who were among them, lit candles.
After Poland, the group will visit Spain, where it will stop and tour Seville, Toledo, Madrid and Cordova – all cradles of Jewish social life before the communities were ravaged and destroyed during the Inquisition.