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April 20, 1990 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

CLOSE-UP

Students receiving a guided tour of the museum at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial, in Jerusalem.

participants. In fact, most
Israeli groups bring survi-
vors, who play a central role
in describing events before
and during the war.
Despite the effort to focus
attention on Poland's rich
Jewish history, the Holo-
caust's sheer enormity
makes everything else pale
by comparison. Whether a
student comes from New
York, Montreal, London or
Tel Aviv, he has seen syna-
gogues, schools and Jewish
communal organizations at
home, so he has a certain
understanding of them.
Even the ghettos, gas
chambers and crematoria
seem familiar. Movies such
as Claude Lanzmann's
"Shoah" and countless
books about the Holocaust
have etched the word
"Auschwitz" onto every
Jewish soul. The signifi-
cance of mass graves is less
clear, wnich may account for
the tremendous impact a
visit to the town of Tykocin
and the nearby mass graves
has on students.
Oded Cohen, director of

the Israel Education Minis-
try ' s Youth Division,
stumbled across Tykocin
about two years ago while he
was on a pilot trip to deter-
mine the feasibility of a pro-
gram to send Israeli high
school students to Poland.
The program sent 3,000 stu-
dents to Poland last year
and plans to send a similar
number this year.
Prior to 1939, Tykocin,
about two hours' drive
northeast of Treblinka, had
about 5,000 residents, half
of them Jews. One night in
August 1941, Nazi soldiers
rounded up the Jewish resi-
dents and marched them to
a clearing in the forest four
miles from town. There, the
Nazis murdered every man,
woman and child and buried
them in three mass graves.
Almost no one survived.
"It broke me," said Shuli
Ben-Meir, 17, of Kibbutz
Ma'ale Hahamisha, as she
left the mass graves. "I just
cried and cried. Some of us
felt as if we were among the
people who were killed."
The mass graves, marked

Detroiters To Join 'March Of The Living'

SUSAN GRANT

Staff Writer

H

oping to learn more
about the Holo-
caust than what
they find in history books,
nine Detroit high school
students left for Poland
yesterday.
The students are among
3,000 teens from around
the world who traveled to
Poland as part of the
"March of the Living"
program. Seven Detroiters
will join the B'nai B'rith
Youth Organization group,
while two others, Elisheva
Schrieber and Rachel
Karlin, will be with the
B'nei Akiva group.
"I see it as a quest for
understanding the Holo-
caust which I've read
about in a million books,"
said Sara Guyer, a 17-year-
old senior at Berkley High
School. "It's not some-
thing you can easily grasp.
I'm not going to fully un-
derstand the Holocaust,
but I hope to have a
greater sense of it."

30

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 1990

The BBYO group did not
go to Poland unprepared,
said Renee Wohl, one of
seven BBYO staff mem-
bers on the trip. The stu-
dents completed a five-
week study session where
they discussed, among
other things, Israel and the
anti-Semitism in Poland.
One of their first stops in
Poland is the Treblinka
death camp. Then they go
to Warsaw for Shabbat
and to tour the Jewish
ghetto, Mila 18 and the de-
portation station.
On April 22, Yom
Hashoah, Holocaust Re-
membrance Day, the stu-
dents will participate in the
"March of the Living" as
they walk the three
kilometers from the
Auschwitz to Birkenau
death camps. Thousands of
camp inmates perished
during World War Two
when they were forced to
walk the same path, once
called the March of the
Dead.
Nobel Peace laureate
Elie Wiesel will address the
students at Auschwitz,

where they will join hands
to sing "Hatikvah" and
hold aloft the flag of Israel,
proclaiming Am Yisrael
Chai — the people of Israel
live.

"I see it as a quest
for understanding
the Holocaust
which I've read
about in a million
books. It's not
something you can
easily grasp. I'm
not going to fully
understand the
Holocaust, but I
hope to have a
greater sense of
it."
Sara Guyer

After spending a few
days visiting other death
camps and the Polish
towns of Cracow and
Lublin, the students will
travel to Jerusalem.
For the next week, they

will see Tel Aviv, Masada
and Israel's Holocaust cen-
ter, Yad Vashem. They
also will celebrate Yom
Hazikaron, Israeli memo-
rial day, and Yom
Ha'atzmaut, Israel Inde-
pendence Day.
Ellen Kogan, a 16-year-
old junior at Birmingham
Groves High School, said
she doesn't know much
about the Holocaust. So
she expects this trip to "be
a great experience. I want
to see for myself what hap-
pened."
Kogan, president of
Machar BBG, earned a
$2,500 BBYO grant to take
the trip. When she returns,
Kagan and fellow scholar-
ship winner Randall
Fogelman, a 16-year-old
junior at Andover High
School, will speak to Jew-
ish groups about their ex-
periences.
"It's not like we're learn-
ing this from a book,"
Kogan said. "We will get
some sort of feeling what it
was really like ... I think we
will all come back with the
feeling we got as close as

we can get." Sherry Doms-
tein, a 17-year-old senior at
Berkley High School, said
she looks forward to going
to Israel to see the rebirth
of a people.
"It's impossible to go to
Poland without going to
Israel," Domstein said.
After leaving Israel, the
students will join 120
BBYO students for a few
days in an upstate New
York camp where they will
discuss their experiences in
Poland and in the Jewish
state, said Arnie Weiner,
BBYO Michigan's regional
director.
Originally, the students
were to stay in Israel until
May 4, but El Al needed
the plane to get as many
Jews out of the Soviet
Union before a possible
May 5 pogrom.
"This mission ... will
have the ability to change
their consciousness," said
Wohl, a BBYO staff mem-
ber for the trip. "It will al-
ter the way they conscious-
ly view Jewish history. Our
kids will never never be in a
role of bystanders." ❑

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