After marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau, we got to tour the camps as a delegation. I immediately got an eerie feeling once I entered the gates of Birkenau. Hearing about the conditions and treatment of the people who suffered in the Holocaust made me feel sick. I feel an immense amount of pride and joy for being Jewish and I will never forget this experience. I am so grateful for the Mayerson JCC of Cincinnati and for the opportunity to go on this trip of a lifetime that will stay with me forever.
Today we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau. This experience was among the most harrowing and monumental moments of my life. The perspective I️ gained today on the camp grounds was a complete contrast to that of the one I️ saw through yesterday during the march to celebrate Jewish life. There were dozens of different exhibits. We saw almost everything that the Shoah victims and survivors brought with them to the camp, everything from piles of old shoes to suitcases and locks of hair. But the thing that they left behind that resonated with me the most were their names. Once all of the inmates arrived at the camps, they were dehumanized in every facet, most importantly, by having their names replaced with numbers such as 11356 or 22784. The last exhibit we saw was a list of 4 million names of Jewish Holocaust victims. Among those names was the name of my grandfather and the names of his immediate family. I️ shared the picture of the list with my mother this evening and it was a very emotional experience. We talked about my grandfather. His life, his legacy, his children. If he were alive today, he would be happy to know that I️ was going on this journey to honor him and most importantly to celebrate life and my Jewish heritage.