Holocaust survivor and Israel Prize winner former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau has participated for the past 32 years in the March of the Living at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

"I feel a little bit of emptiness," Rabbi Lau said. "For the first time in 32 years, I cannot participate in the March of the Living."

Referring to the first March of the Living, in 1988, he said: "I cannot forget even the eyes of the neighbors from Oswiecim at the time. They didn't believe that the Jews are still alive, the Jews are still marching, full of vitality and even singing Hatikva. They didn't understand the words but they understood that something had happened here. I can never forget this excitement of 32 years ago."

Though this year, live participation in the March of the Living is impossible due to the coronavirus outbreak, Rabbi Lau said that "the spirit is there."

"We will never forget, we will never forgive, and we will remember till the end of our lives," he emphasized. "This is a sign that the People of Israel are eternal, that we are immortal, that we are a nation that will always continue to live."

Today, he said, "We are still alive. We have a homeland, we have an independent state, we are very proud of what we have, what we have achieved in the last 75 years."

"I want to tell all the anti-Semites today: Look at the corona, look at this virus, this international virus. And learn from it a lesson. The lesson is: No discrimination between one man and another. No discrimination between one nation and another, or one race and another. We are all equal. We are all children of G-d. The L-rd Alm-ghty has brought us into this world and we are together, we suffered together, and we can enjoy life together.

"To my brothers and sisters, survivors of the Holocaust: We went through more difficult and bitter times. Don't take it so deeply to your heart. I understand. I myself am here with a mask, and I am here in my home a month already... But what is it in proportion to what we suffered, to what we went through? ... If we survived the Holocaust, we will survive this corona, and hopefully you will have a healthy summer, a happy year, and a lot of satisfaction from your children, children's children, until 120 years."

This year, Rabbi Lau is participating in the virtual March of the Living. Usually, memorial plaques are placed on the tracks at the entrance to Birkenau.