Mixed emotions. I think that describes the day perfectly. Arriving at Auschwitz is never a happy occasion, yet, coming here today, I’m not gonna lie when I say I was teeming with excitement. It was a beautiful sunny day and I couldn’t wait to see the different countries that were represented, meet as many of the roughly 12,000 people in attendance. I felt a lot of joy participating in the March, but I had to constantly remind myself where we were, why we were doing this. Remembering the millions that were slaughtered like animals, the ones who died nameless, just a number, we march because we don’t forget about those people. We march so we can build empathy, so we can somewhat try to grasp what these people had to endure. We march so we learn that all human beings, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, are treated as equals, as human beings.
This day was made even more special for me in particular however because of the fact that I was chosen to represent the United States in the torch lighting ceremony. To say I was honored would be quite the understatement, it was truly the experience of a lifetime. MOTL chose 4 countries this year- Argentina, Mexico, Morocco, and the US- to represent in the torch lightings. And it was me that got to carry the US’s torch, all I can say is WOW. I got to go into the VIP section of the stands and sit next to Holocaust survivors and I shook all of their hands and told them that I was so proud of being able to participate in such an amazing journey. The actual torch lighting was crazy, I was standing in front of 12,000 people, my peers, my fellow Jews, and in the background Auschwitz loomed, a constant reminder of the horrors that took place there, the sight was truly unbelievable. I happened to be standing next to the Prime Minister of Romania and I got to hand her the torch afterward!
This whole experience truly puts a lot of things in perspective, it makes us understand how lucky we are and how grateful we all should be for what we have. I know with 100% certainty that I feel so much more connected to my Jewish heritage and faith, and we’re not even through the first week…