MOTL 2014

April 11, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Community leaders will join Year 11 students on The March of the Living at Auschwitz…but the leaders will visit Berlin before travelling to Auschwitz Birkenau where they will learn in situ about the rise of Nazism.

The community leaders will spend Anzac Day in Berlin and will meet the Australian ambassador to Germany before travelling to Poland to join the MOTL participants.

This year’s march will be lead by Pauline Rockman, president of Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre. It will be the first time community leaders have joined the march.

MOTL will be sending four contingents – Students (16-17 year olds); Young Adults (18-30 year olds); Adults and a very special Community Leader Program.

The organisers believe that the March of the Living will play a major role in the development of younger members of the community understanding of the importance of involvement and subsequently may produce the enthusiasm needed to produce those who will become communally involved in the future.

A spokesperson for MOTL said: “It is our experience that March of the Living has the potential to shape the nature of a generation of Australian Jewish youth at a critical stage of their development. Many of the students who have participated in the March of the Living program have taken on leadership roles, having been elected school captains in their respective schools.

Numerous other MOTL graduates have gone on to assume roles and careers directly connected to and affected by their MOTL experience, such as Co-Director of Informal Jewish Studies at Bialik College in Melbourne; CEO of Jewish Aid Australia; Educational Officer at the Sydney Jewish Museum and President of the Australian Zionist Youth Council, to name a few.”

Liz Davidson is one of the participants. She writes: “I am privileged to be a second-generation survivor of the holocaust.  My parents were both from Warsaw and I was lucky to be born in Australia…. I grew up hearing a regular dose of stories and experiences detailing bravery, loss, death, rationing and disease, which were but a few of the many aspects of how my parents became accustomed to living their lives during 1939-1945.

I was lucky enough 3 years ago to experience the Adult March of the Living with my husband David and eldest son Josh.  As so many who have participated in this journey have stated, this became a life-changing experience for all of us.  We listened to survivors recount their stories and then we became witnesses.

Experiencing this journey made it impossible to come home and do nothing about what I had faced, what I had felt, what we had shared.  I felt the need to take responsibility to help continue the rite of passage for Jews and non-Jews to also bear witness. The natural steppingstone for me was joining the Friends of MOTL (FOMOTL) group, which has provided a springboard to make this a reality.  Together with some amazing women on the Friends of the March of the Living committee we help create programs to promote awareness and funding for students and survivors. Currently in Australia, and for a number of reasons the participants attending the MOTL programmes are falling.

My motivation and intention for attending the 2014 Community Leaders Programme is 3 fold.  Firstly, the opportunity to join both Sue and Pauline on this journey is like winning 1st prize and I know that learning and observing from their combined experiences in both Berlin and Poland will be extraordinary. Sue and Pauline have both received OAM’s for their passionate efforts in educating and leading groups to Poland for many years. Having never been to Berlin, this group programme offers the essential ingredients of what to see, hear and experience.  Secondly, by being in the company of other like-minded people who just like me want to see the future of this programme continue. I intend to brainstorm ideas and concepts for how we can move into the future and help create opportunities for each generation to also experience this journey and to bear witness.  Thirdly, based on my experiences in Poland in 2011 and being able to have open dialogue with polish students opened my mind to their reality of the holocaust, and the struggles they have had to live with. I have just recently found a Jewish relative (in his 20’s) whom I look forward to hearing what it’s like to be a young Jew living in Warsaw today.

I feel honoured and grateful to be part of this melting pot of participants who represent some of the main Jewish organizations in Melbourne and Sydney. Some are involved with survivors in their daily work, some are educators, some are like me, second generation, but for all of us we will together share an unforgettable experience.  I am sure that there will be many powerful lessons each of us will learn and that we will bring home.  I hope that within each of our individual roles we will be able to communicate this emotional journey and pass that on to the foundations and committees we represent as well as to the wider community.

I would like to thank Cedric Geffen who so tirelessly gives of himself in his endeavours towards MOTL, and look forward to sharing this experience, as well as with Emmanuel Santos and Sean Meltzer who have together devoted many years of their talents for MOTL and have produced superb evidence of workmanship.








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