Participants from more than 70 countries join March of the Living’s virtual commemorations

April 9, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Participants from across the world joined leaders, dignitaries and Holocaust survivors in March of the Living’s virtual events marking Holocaust Remembrance Day across the Jewish world. This year’s March of the Living paid special tribute to the medical professionals who risked their lives during the Holocaust.

Virtual plaques on Auschwitz-Birkenau train tracks (Credit Pawel Dziedzic)

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin led a virtual march alongside dignitaries including Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, Jewish Agency Chair Isaac Herzog, KKL Chair Avraham Duvdevani and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. They were joined by Holocaust survivors who survived due to the selfless acts of medical professionals. Doctors, nurses and paramedics also joined the March alongside Israel’s Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash and senior representatives from Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Magen David Adom and Ezer Mitzion.

Participants in the virtual March from across the globe were filmed using innovative 3D technology so they appeared to be marching along the traditional March of the Living route at Auschwitz – Birkenau. The March was broadcast around the world.

The March was followed immediately by an online memorial ceremony with the first torch of remembrance lit by President Rivlin.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said: During this pandemic we are prevented from stepping on the accursed earth, saturated with the blood of six million of our people. Yet, we have vowed never to forget or let go. Technology allows us, each and every one of us, to participate in the March of Living without leaving home while contributing to the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims. We must harness all the tools at our disposal to fight racism, anti-Semitism, attempts at denial. We must continue marching.” 

Chairman of the International March of the Living, Dr Shmuel Rosenman added: “Although we are unable to step our feet on the land where the most horrific atrocities of human history took place, the March does not stop. We will continue to pass the torch of memory and fight the fight against anti-Semitism and racism of all kind. We will never stop marching – and never forget.”

Virtual March of the Living (Credit March of the Living)

Phyllis Greenberg Heideman is the President, International March of the Living. She commented:  Even as we continue to face an uncertain future, we turn to our past for renewed strength, firm resolve and continued faith in our ability to overcome adversity and flourish anew. We march together to remember, reflect and recommit to a better future.”

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, March of the Living launched a global campaign, giving people across the world the opportunity to recreate one of the most moving aspects of the March of the Living, by virtually placing a memorial plaque against the backdrop of the infamous train tracks at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. 10,000 people from more than 70 countries placed a personal message via a dedicated mini-site https://nevermeansnever.motl.org/    

On Wednesday evening, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a special online symposium was broadcast titled “Medicine and Morality: Lessons from the Holocaust and COVID-19”. It featured Holocaust survivors, world-renowned medical professionals and researchers who discussed medical resistance during the Holocaust and its lessons for the ethics of care.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, whose parents survived the Holocaust, participated in the event.  During the symposium, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the U.S. President, received the “Moral Courage in Medicine” award for his work in combatting COVID-19, his long history of leading the battle against infectious diseases, and his dedication to the health and wellbeing of humankind.

Dr Anthony Fauci said: During this past year, we have witnessed unspeakable suffering caused by a terrible pandemic. However, we have also seen thousands of men and women of great moral courage caring for the sick and the dying with compassion and love, risking their own health… At this time of Holocaust remembrance, we also remember the millions taken by unspeakable evil, whose voices nonetheless speak to us across time. It is important we never forget, not just because evil has not been vanquished, but because virtue and goodness must always remain strong in us.”

Teva Pharmaceuticals, a global industry leader, was represented at the medical symposium by Dr Eran Harary VP, TA Head, Neurology and Psychiatry, Global Specialty R&D. Kare Schultz, President and CEO of  Teva commented, “Teva is proudly and humbly participating in this year’s March of the Living and salutes the Holocaust survivors and all those who cherish its victims. For 120 years Teva has been at the forefront of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry and tirelessly strives to provide access to life-improving medicines for millions of people around the world. Joining the March of the Living represents a loud and clear call on behalf of all our employees, that all of us as one at Teva, will never forget the lessons of the Holocaust.”

To date, close to 300,000 International March of the Living participants have marched en masse along the 3.2-kilometre path from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in tribute to the greatest loss in the history of the Jewish people and all humanity.

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