The Mayerson JCC will send a delegation of 27 teens and three adult leaders to Poland and Israel from April 28 – May 12, to participate in the annual March of the Living (MOTL). The March begins in Poland, where the group will join other groups from around the world on May 2 to march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during the Holocaust. They will then travel to Israel to celebrate Israeli Independence Day on May 8.
More than 260,000 people from 52 countries have participated in the March since it began in 1988. The International March of the Living hosts programs for a range of ages, from high school students to adults. Each year, high school seniors from throughout the Greater Cincinnati area form the Cincinnati delegation; for them, the trip becomes part of a memorable conclusion to their adolescent years and provides them with a new perspective as they move on to the next significant stage of their lives.
The three leaders of the Cincinnati delegation are each uniquely equipped to help teens process the impact of the trip. Trinity Johnson is the Programs & Outreach Manager at the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center and is playing an integral part in leading the pre-trip seminars and beginning the crucial discussions needed to process everything they will see on the trip. David Solomon is the Director of Operations at the Mayerson JCC. David previously chaperoned the MOTL trip in 2015 and has already been a great role model for the group, helping to prepare the teens for the experiences they will have. Becca Pollak, the delegation head, is the Teen and Tween Coordinator at the Mayerson JCC. This is her first time going on MOTL. An experienced teen program leader, she has been building her relationships with the group throughout the school year.
In partnership with the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, the group is participating in six pre-trip seminars to prepare for the experience. This year, the group has been fortunate to participate in these educational opportunities in the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center’s new space at Union Terminal, a space where local survivors arrived in Cincinnati after being displaced by the Holocaust. During these seminars, the group will hear from four local survivors, discuss events of the Holocaust, and focus in on what they will see while in Poland. In addition, one seminar will be led by the Chaverim, young adult fellows from Israel, to learn about the week they will spend in Israel.
The students’ experience on March of the Living is one they will never forget. Some of the teens traveling together have known each other since preschool, and this experience is an excellent culmination of their adolescent experience. In addition to shedding light on how raw and awful humanity can be, but the trip also demonstrates the light, love, and resilience of the Jewish people and people around the world. The historical and emotional lessons learned on this trip will stay with the teens as they take their first steps beyond high school.
The March of the Living Cincinnati is organized by the Mayerson JCC, in partnership with The Holocaust and Humanity Center. Cincy Journeys Israel Travel grants are generously funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and administered by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. The grants are not need based and are offered to Cincinnati Jewish high school seniors who have not already used their high school Israel travel grant.