You’ll go to Poland on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) and march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II. Then travel to Israel to observe Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) and Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
From Poland to Israel, from darkness to light, we are still here.
For information about March of the Living, contact: MOTL@mayersonjcc.org.
March of the Living Information
For high school seniors with at least one Jewish parent.
Come learn about March of the Living, an opportunity to join Jewish teens from all over the world for a profoundly moving experience. Observe Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Poland, where you will march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II. Afterwards, you will travel to Israel to observe Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) and celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day) to cap off the trip of a lifetime.
Eligibility & Preparation
Students who will be in the 12th grade during the 2023-2024 school year are eligible to participate. Applicants must complete an application and medical form. If you are chosen, you will attend 6 pre-trip sessions to review Holocaust history, Israeli culture, and facilitate group bonding. These sessions are offered by the Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education in partnership with The Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center.
Costs & Flights
This trip is organized by the Mayerson JCC, in partnership with the The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center. Travel grants are generously funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and administered by the Jewish Federation. Cincy Journeys travel 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. Those who have already used their travel grant and would like to attend may do so for an all-inclusive price. Price is inclusive of domestic and international airfare, lodging, meals and program fees. In addition, teens may be able to redeem their B’nai Mitzvah travel grant toward this trip. Visit JewishCininnati.org to apply for a grant.
Meet the Team
It is not possible to begin to grasp the atrocities of the Holocaust until you breathe the same air that our murdered ancestors did, walk the same steps, sit in the same barracks — all sites that are now grown over. Truly, that air, those steps, and those barracks are not just theirs, they are ours. March of the Living taught me that it is our collective obligation to respect the millions of lives lost by telling their stories, one at a time. Peppi — our incredible guide in Poland, who truly lives up to her name — taught me that too. I made new, lifelong friendships on our journey; both the destruction and the beauty that we saw on the trip had a special way of bringing our entire delegation together. One of the memories that will remain with me most is from our last day in Poland, at Auschwitz. Anyone who was visibly emotional (which was a lot of us at that point) was hugged without hesitation, by friends and acquaintances alike. It was truly beautiful. Such beautiful humanity expressed in a place deprived of it for so long was powerful to experience. Coming back from March of the Living, I shoulder an immense responsibility to carry on the legacy of the Shoah, to show that we are still here and we are still thriving. It’s the most powerful way of proclaiming ‘never again.
The March of the Living is an experience that is very hard to put into words. Seeing the atrocities in Poland then heading to the Jewish homeland made our whole group understand the importance of having a Jewish state. Walking through the concentration camps as a group strengthened our bonds and created new ones. We all realized that it is so important to keep the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish people alive. The horrors we saw in Poland made Israel seem like a miracle and a place where Jewish people are accepted with open arms. The impact of this trip goes way beyond missing two weeks of school. The bonds that you will make will last a lifetime.
In the first week, we stepped on the ground where thousands of thriving Jews lived, learning individual stories. We then ventured to forests, ghettos, and concentration camps where thousands of people were murdered on the spot, putting us in states of utter shock. All my life, I have learned about the statistics, constantly having these numbers thrown into my brain: six million Jews. Standing on the actual concentration camp grounds, though, made those numbers feel unimportant. I heard the stories of teenage girls, like me, who were talking to boys, having passions, and just trying to live their lives, but their livelihoods were taken away from them. No longer was I seeing the numbers when we walked past 40,000 pairs of shoes, hundreds of thousands of suitcases, and eerie barracks; I was seeing individual lives that could have been me, my friends, or my family. I am so thankful that I took this opportunity right before college, because it made me think about who I am, who I want to be, and who I want to surround myself with. Before this trip, I thought I had a pretty solid grasp on my Judaism, but March of the Living turned all of that upside down. For some reason, I had never thought about the individual lives, but now that I understood them, I appreciated my Judaism even more. No matter what level of Judaism you relate to, when standing in these places, you can’t help but feel proud of the Jewish people for persevering and staying strong today amidst the attempts to annihilate us all. It made me realize the importance of keeping Judaism and the Jewish community in my life, helped me put minor problems into perspective, and opened my eyes that there is so much more outside my Cincinnati bubble.
You cannot truly appreciate something until you’ve either lost it or gotten a glimpse of what life would be like without it. When I first began my journey on March of The Living, I was looking forward to getting out of school for two weeks and becoming closer with the other delegates. After returning from the trip, my thoughts changed. Looking at the camps, the barracks, the railroad tracks, the belongings, and realizing that everything is there except the people that used them was one of the most eye-opening feelings I have ever experienced in my life. Six million people perished in the blink of an eye. Six million different people, living different lives, in different parts of the world. Not only is it our job to remember the six million and remind people of the horrors of the Holocaust, it is our job as Jews to live our lives to the best of our ability, loud and proud. Six million Jews were murdered by the end of 1945 simply because they were Jewish. I wear a chai around my neck for them, for myself, and for all Jews around the world because we’re still here.
2022 Itinerary will be released at a later date
Sample Trip Itinerary
12:30pm – Landing in Warsaw
2pm – Okopowa Cemetery
3pm – Ghetto Wall – Zlota
4pm – Sienna
5pm – Umschlagplatz Heroism Trail
6pm – Rapaport
7pm – Check-in at hotel
8pm – Dinner
6:30am – Breakfast
7:30am – Drive to Tykocin
10:30am – Tykocin Synagogue
12pm – Lopuchowo Forest
1pm – Drive to Treblinka
2:30pm – Treblinka
5:30pm – Drive to Lublin
9pm – Check-in at hotel
9:30pm – Dinner
7:30 – Breakfast
9am – Drive to Majdanek
12:30pm – Drive to Zbylitowska
4:30pm – Zbylitowska Gora
5:30pm – Drive to Krakow
7pm – Check-in at hotel
7:30pm – Dinner
7am – Breakfast
8am – Rama Cemetery (check if open)
9am – Ghetto Wall
9:30am – Plaszow
10:30am – Drive to Auschwitz
1pm – March
3pm – Ceremony
5pm – Drive to Krakow
7pm – Dinner
6:30am – Breakfast
7:30am – Drive to Birkenau
9am – Birkenau
12pm – Drive to Auschwitz
1pm – Auschwitz
3:30pm – Drive to Krakow
7:30pm – Shabbat Services at High Synagogue
9pm – Dinner
8am – Breakfast
9am – Shabbat Program
10am – Kazimierz Tour
10:30am – Altshul
11am – Rama
11:30am – Temple, Isaac
12:30pm – Lunch at hotel
1:30pm – Podgorze
2:30pm – Schindler Museum
4pm – Program Join Western
5pm – Old Town
7pm – Dinner
8pm – Departure to Airport
5:10am – Welcome to Israel
6:30am – Pick-up breakfast at airport
7:15am – Welcome to Israel Ceremony and stop for breakfast
8am – Drive to Tel-Aviv
9am – Rothchild St./ Karmel Market
11:30am – Lunch
1pm – Volunteering & Drive to K’far Hanokdim
7pm – Camel Ride
7:45pm – Bedouin Hospitality and dinner
9pm – Bonfire
Overnight: K’far Hanokdim (Bedouin Tent)
5am – Climb Masada at sunrise
9am – Breakfast
10:30am – Ein Gedi – David Stream (Hike)
12pm – Lunch & Swim in Dead Sea
2pm – Drive North
5pm – Disco Boat
Overnight: Kibbutz Deganya
9:30am – Tz’fat (Tour/Shopping Time)
11:30am – Lunch in Tz’fat
1:30pm – Haifa and the Bahai Gardens (Overlook)
2:30pm – Head to Netanya
4pm – Short gathering with Israelis, Split-up and pick-up by host families, Dinner by host families, Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) central ceremony in Netanya, along with host families
Overnight: Host families (Rooms for staff at Margo’a Hotel)
8am – Gathering at Sharet High School with Israelis
9am – Yom HaZikaron ceremony at the school
10am – Joint activity with Israelis (for Yom HaZikaron)
11:30am – Pizza lunch at the school
12:30pm – Sum-up session and say goodbye to Israelis
1pm – Beach Time
5pm – Yom HaAtzmaut Celebrations at local community/town
Overnight: Neve Shalom
9am – Drive to Jerusalem
11:30am – Lunch
12pm – Gathering at Kikar Safra; March through streets of Jerusalem toward the Kotel
2:45pm – Ceremony at the Kotel; Drive to Latrun
5:30pm – March of the Living Mega Event in Latrun
Overnight: Neve Shalom
9am – Yad V’Shem Holocaust Museum
12pm – Packed lunch
12:30pm – Mount Herzl
2pm – Machane Yehuda Market
7pm – Kabbalat Shabbat at the hotel; Shabbat dinner; Oneg Shabbat
Overnight: Lev Yerushalaiym Hotel
8:30am – Breakfast
9am – Morning Service and Kiddush
10am – Walking tour of the old city of Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter; Visit the Kotel
12:30pm – Lunc at the hotel; Guided tour of the area; Group activity; Going to nearby park
7pm – Se’uda shlishit – dinner at the hotel
8pm – Havdalah
8:30pm – Drive to the airport
- 1 Suitcase/bag – 50 pound limit, maximum exterior dimension: 62in.
- 1 Backpack (to carry on the plane, for daily use on bus, and for an overnight stay)
- 1 Small bag for easy access on day trips if you want something smaller than a backpack
- Labels for all luggage/bags
- 1 Pair sturdy walking/hiking/gym shoes (lightweight recommended)
- 1 Pair Tevas or other secure water sandals (Closed heel recommended)
- 1 Pair casual and comfortable shoes for other occasions/Shabbat
- 8-10 T-shirts or tank tops (one white shirt for Yom HaZikaron [Memorial Day])
- 6 Pairs of shorts
- 2 Pairs of long pants or jeans
- 15 Pairs of underwear
- 15 Pairs of socks
- 1-2 Swimsuits
- 1-2 Sweatshirts or lightweight jacket (provided MOTL sweatshirt recommended)
- 1 Outfit for religious sites: dress or skirt/top that covers elbows and knees
- 1-2 Outfit(s) for Shabbat/events: skirt/top or dress
- 1 White shirt
- 1 White shirt for religious sites
- 1-2 Pair long-pants (dressier, i.e., khakis) for religious sites, Shabbat & events
- 2 Short-sleeved Polo shirts (Shabbat and events)
- 1 Kipah
- Dop kit/ cosmetic bag
- Extra contact lens solution (very expensive in Israel)
- Soap and covered soap dish or liquid soap
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shaving equipment
- Feminine hygiene supplies
- Toilet paper (sometimes not available at rest stops)
- Mini packages of Kleenex, chapstick, and anti-bacterial soap or wipes
- Camera and charger
- Phone and charger
- Water bottle
- Insect repellent
- 1-2 Beach towels
- Extra pair of prescription glasses and/or contact lenses
- Prescription medicine (enough for 3 weeks + a written prescription)
- Adapter for Poland/Israel (220 converter)
- Large plastic bag for clothing that gets wet
- Journal, pens
- Cincinnati MOTL gear (sweatshirt, hats, shirt, nametag, pins) and MOTL raincoat
- $250 Spending Money
Please bring one unbreakable, easy to pack gift for your host family in Netanya.
Popular gifts bear the name Cincinnati, such as t-shirts and other items that may have the logos of various Cincinnati sports teams, universities, etc.
Israelis also love special M&Ms, because they can only get plain M&Ms in Israel.
Your host family will also like pictures of you, your family, school friends, etc.
Linens and pillows
Expensive jewelry or other valuables such as laptops and expensive electronics
Each participant will be responsible for his or her own luggage at all times, which includes loading it on and off of buses and into hotel rooms. As such we recommend bringing one “manageable” piece of luggage (duffel bags and rolling suitcases work best) and one full-size carryon bag.
Be sure to pack at least one change of clothes, toiletries, and any prescription medicine you will need in your carry-on bag in the unlikely event that your checked luggage gets delayed. It is also a smart idea to attach some kind of easy identifier, such as a colored ribbon, to your checked luggage as well as a name label.
Weather goes from cold, rainy Poland to hot, sunny Israel, so be prepared with multiple layers REMEMBER TO LABEL EVERYTHING!
In Poland, the temperature in April can range from the 40’s to the 70’s, and it rains frequently. In Israel the weather will be warmer and may range from the 50’s to the 80’s. With this in mind, here are some practical packing tips to consider:
- Participants should have a hat, a shirt with sleeves/windbreaker/sweater, sunscreen, and water in their backpacks at all times.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. No flip flops.
- Please pack modest clothing to be worn when visiting religious sites and concentration camps.
- Because we strive to create a special atmosphere on Shabbat, please bring dressy-casual clothing to be worn at this time.
NOTE: All participants will receive a March of the Living hooded rain-slick jacket and a hat.