For our Lay Of The Land readers all around the world who are not familiar, BJE March of the Living(Building Jewish Education) is a two week experience during which teens from all over the world travel together to Poland and to Israel to learn about the Jewish people’s past, present and future. Cancelled this year because of Coronavirus,
Monise Neuman, former director of BJE March of the Living sends the following personal message including information to access today about Yom HaShoah.
Monise Neuman’s Message
“I know that everyone is inundated with emails these days with either humor to lift our spirits from the Covid-19 plague or updates about the spread and impact of this virus.
I beg your indulgence, as important people in my life who have shared the very powerful March of the Living journey with me over the many years, and who have provided me with continued sustenance, as I share my personal reflections and turn my attention to another reality of Covid-19.
The inability, for the first time in more years than I can count, that I will not be standing on the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Yom HaShoah and telling the souls who hover over this scarred and sacred land that I haven’t forgotten them. Freddy’s story, Peska’s story, Sigi’s story, Bob’s story, Dorothy and Allen’s stories and the words and teachings of Ronnie Mink (z”l) will remain entrenched in my very essence. They will not be shared with the participants of the eight adult and young adult delegations that I have had the pleasure of working with for the last nine months. It was my earnest desire that they, like all of us, would become part of the chain of remembrance and attempt to comprehend what Ronnie told us year-after-year that “the Holocaust did not take place in black and white, but in living colour.”
I am asked continuously why I do what I do – and the reasons are countless. While I firmly believe there are SIX MILLION REASONS underlying this passion – it is the understanding that this reality has to be understood as one person at a time. This was captured for me when I came across the picture and words below written by Gela Sekzstein, displayed at the Oneg Shabbat Exhibit at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, displaying documents that form the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, founded by Emanuel Ringelblum.
I am sharing this reflection with you with immense gratitude because your commitment to the march and your support of me and this endeavor has allowed me to do my part to ensure that Margolit Lichtensztejn and her mother Gela are not forgotten.
To say I am disappointed, like many of you, not to march on Yom HaShoah from Auschwitz to Birkenau is an understatement, but I am incredibly proud of the very difficult decision made by the leadership of the International March that the health and well-being of all concerned is paramount. While we cannot be together in person to commemorate, the MOL is sponsoring virtual programs.
The March of the Living Virtual Plaque Project will continue the tradition of placing messages on plaques on the train tracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau. I would love it if you could click on https://nevermeansnever.motl.org/ and leave a personal message in solidarity and unity.
Please note also that on Yom Hashoah, Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 4:00PM PDT, a 2020 Virtual March of the Living will be aired at 4:00PM PDT at motl.org/live, on Facebook at facebook.com/motlorg, as well as on Jewish Broadcasting Service at jbstv.org/watch-live. There will be a special address by the President of Israel and interviews with survivors, educators, MOTL alumni and leaders. If you miss it at this time, please note that the program will remain available for viewing after it has aired.
Thank you all for being part of my reality and for ensuring that we never forget Margolit, Gela, Freddy, Peska, Sigi, Bob, Dorothy, Allen and Ronnie.”
Monise Neumann – Currently serves as National Consultant for the International March of the Living. She has worked in Jewish Education for the past 40 years. Prior to this position, she was the Head Consultant for the Builders of Jewish Education in Los Angeles – overseeing the teen department which included running the BJE Teen March of the Living overseeing the participation of over 220 teens, survivors and staff. Originally from South Africa, Monise is married with two children and recently became a grandmother.