March of the Living postponed

March 9, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The leaders have announced that this year’s March of the Living in Poland will be postponed due to the spread of coronavirus, especially in Europe and United States.

Photo: Yossi Zeliger

March of the Living World Chair, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman said, “After consulting with the relevant health bodies and officials, it is with a heavy heart that we are forced to announce the postponement of this year’s March of the Living in Poland. Our primary concern is the health of the many participants and the Holocaust survivors who would be joining them. Given that this is an international event involving 110 delegations from around the world, we have a responsibility to take precautionary measures in accordance with the guidelines given by authorities in various countries.”

March of the Living is the largest annual international Holocaust education program. It has taken place in Poland without interruption, since its inception in 1988. Each year, more than 10,000 Jewish and non-Jewish youth from 40 countries participate in the march, including from Canada, United States, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Australia, Poland and beyond. They are joined by Holocaust survivors and other VIPs from around the globe.

Against the backdrop of the postponement, the organization will launch a campaign encouraging youth across the world to combat antisemitism and racism under the slogan, “Never Means Never”.  In doing so, March of the Living will continue to educate youth about the history of the Holocaust and to instill values of tolerance, combating antisemitism and racism. “Our educational message, especially in the face of rising antisemitism, will be communicated by other means this year. Even if we are not able to be in Poland, we remain thoroughly committed to our values and our historic role,” commented Dr. Shmuel Rosenman.

March of the Living organizers are exploring the educational alternatives, in which communities across the world would be able to participate in such a campaign. In addition, plans for re-scheduling the march in Poland later this year are underway, with informed consideration to global health conditions and community needs.

March of the Living President, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, said “It is with a heavy heart due to the global attack of the coronavirus we will not march together on Yom HaShoah 2020. This by no means implies that we will be deterred from our mission and responsibility to remember the past, pay tribute to those who perished or honour those who survived. We will remain committed to educating the next generation and combatting antisemitism, even as we look forward to our next March in Poland”.

To date, more than 300,000 participants, from 52 countries have walked the route of the march, the 3.2-kilometre long railroad tracks from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in tribute to the greatest loss in the history of the Jewish people and humanity.

The President of The March of Living Australia Cedric Geffen told J-Wire:  “There would have been around 70 participants this year comprising of 50 adults, 11 students and the balance being survivors. I feel gutted it has been postponed but it would have been a nightmare logistically. In the interest of the participants, there is no point in taking risks.”

Cedric Geffen said the Never Means Never will be launched in Australia through social media.

Australia first participated in the MOTL in 2001 with students only taking part. In 2004, adults also joined the program.

In New Zealad Esther Haver told J-Wire: “We were due to send 9 participants and 2 leaders for 2020 March.

About 6 weeks ago we changed our flights to go via the USA, but now it’s all been postponed due to Coronavirus.  It must be a huge nightmare for International MOTL.

They say they are hoping to postpone it to later in the year, and have given a couple of suggested dates, but that will probably be in sync more with the American school holidays.  They can also go next year which is probably what most of our participants will do.

Cancellation of MOTL 2020 means that all the organisation of airfares, education (fortunately that has only just begun), meetings etc have been in vain.  The NZ families are being very supportive and understanding, and we are hoping that financially we won’t take a hit, as MOTL New Zealand admin is purely voluntary and we usually just break even.

I’m very philosophical about all of this – people’s health and well being is more important, and we are confident that the participants for 2020 won’t miss out, and will get to go to Poland and Israel next April, 2021.”

 

 

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