March of the Living 2018
March of the Living 2018Yossi Zeliger

On Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah), Thursday, May 2, more than 10,000 Jewish and non-Jewish youth from 40 countries and dozens of Holocaust survivors and dignitaries from around the world will participate in the 31st annual International March of the Living, the three-kilometer march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, to pay tribute to all victims of the Holocaust and call for an end to anti-Semitism.

This year, for the first time, the event’s main ceremony will honor Greek Jewry, which was almost completely annihilated by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Arutz Sheva will be following and covering the march.

In response to the torrent of anti-Semitic events and growing global trend of hate crimes against Jews over the last two years, the March of the Living will host the first-ever “Emerging Leadership Conference” in Krakow ahead of the march for hundreds of youth from around the world who have been impacted by anti-Semitism.

During the conference, 20 youth representatives – Jewish and non-Jewish – will sign an official declaration to launch the campaign, a rallying and defiant call to other youth to commemorate the Holocaust and help put an end to anti-Semitism before history repeats itself. The youth leaders will then heavily promote the campaign via social media platforms under the hashtag #SayNoToAntisemitism.

To honor Greek Jewry, Greece will send a distinguished delegation to the march, headed by His All-Holiness Bartholomew I Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, the leader of tens of millions of Orthodox Christians around the globe, and the Speaker of the Greek Parliament, Nikos Voutsis.

“The awful, senseless murder in Poway, California, is just the latest in a seemingly endless string of violent anti-Semitic events – one of the most challenging periods in recent memory for the international Jewish community,” said Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Founder and Co-Chairman of the March of the Living.

“This murder coincides with the kick-off to a week during which we honor the victims of the Holocaust, one of the greatest tragedies in human history, an affront to humanity that was born out of virulent anti-Semitism. Our world leaders must pay attention to the warning signs and do everything in their power to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms. Thousands of people will be marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau to remind them of their responsibility to put an end to the hate, fear and loss.”

This year’s march will be led by a special delegation of US Ambassadors and White House representatives headed by the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and including US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher, and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr.

“Anti-Semitism is one of the oldest forms of hate on this planet. The US government is always ready to do battle against anti-Semitism and those who peddle this vile hatred, wherever it may exist,” said Ambassador Friedman. “We won’t stop and we won’t rest until we can shine a light in these dark corners and root it out forever."

Other high-profile participants will include Prime Minister of Romania and President of Council of EU Viorica Dăncilă, Holocaust survivor and Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Lau, who has accompanied every march since 1988, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, who will be leading the Jewish Agency delegation behind a far-reaching international campaign against anti-Semitism, and members of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, two professional soccer teams proudly supporting the #SayNoToAntisemitism campaign.

In addition, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, will lead a delegation of dozens of UN ambassadors from around the world, including the ambassadors of Argentina, Latvia, Guatemala, and Honduras among others.

“I am proud to be heading the Jewish Agency’s delegation at this year’s March of the Living, marching alongside a distinguished group of Jewish Agency employees and Jewish communal advocates and activists,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog. “We will march to send a message that while life marches on, we will never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and take our responsibility to share the story with each and every generation very seriously, especially during a time when anti-Semitism is one again boiling over worldwide. It is our obligation to educate against hate and intolerance and lead the rallying cry of ‘Never again.’”

The International March of the Living is an immersive Holocaust education experience – the largest of its kind – that brings tens of thousands of individuals to Poland every year to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred. Since its inception in 1988, more than 300,000 participants from 52 countries have marched down the same 3-kilometer path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Memorial Day as a tribute to all victims of the Holocaust. Over the last 30 years, high-profile participants have included Israeli Prime Ministers, Presidents, Members of Knesset, Chiefs of Staff, and Ministers, as well as Presidents, Ministers of Education, intellectuals, and educators from around the world.

Prior to the march on Holocaust Memorial Day, the participating youth delegations – comprised of both Jews and non-Jews – will visit ghettos, monuments and death camps to learn about life in Europe prior to World War II, the Holocaust and the suffering of its tens of millions of victims. Following the march, more than 6,000 participants will continue on to Israel for a week of study that will culminate in Israel’s Independence Day celebrations.