(March 9, 2020 / JNS) March of the Living, the largest annual international Holocaust-education program that takes groups to the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland and then Israel, will not take place in this month because of concerns related to the coronavirus.
“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,” said the program’s world chair, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman. “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.”
The event 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, Jewish organizational and communal leaders, and others from around the globe.
Against the backdrop of the postponement, the organization will launch a campaign encouraging youth across the world to combat anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitism and racism.
“Our educational message, especially in the face of rising anti-Semitism, will be communicated by other means this year,” said Rosenman. “Even if we are not able to be in Poland, we remain thoroughly committed to our values and our historic role. Organizers are exploring the educational alternatives in which communities across the world would be able to participate in such a campaign.”
He added that plans for rescheduling the march in Poland later this year are underway with informed consideration for global-health conditions and community needs.
March of the Living president Phyllis Greenberg Heideman stated, “It is with a heavy heart due to the global attack of the coronavirus that 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 honor those who survived. We will remain committed to educating the next generation and combating anti-Semitism, even as we look forward to our next March in Poland.”
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