Royal West Academy alumnus Emma Rothsteins travels to Israel and Poland on March of the Living
By Danielle Nisker
Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 March of the Living (MOL), run locally by Federation CJA’s young adult division, GenMTL. This experiential educational program brings grade 11 participants on a life-changing two-week journey through Poland and Israel. MOL is dedicated to strengthening Jewish identity, as well as inspiring participants to fight indifference, racism and injustice.
Royal West Academy alumni Emma Rothstein and her twin brother Tyler, both now first-year CEGEP students, participated in the 2019 MOL. Their great-grandparents were Holocaust survivors, which prompted their parents to encourage them to apply for the trip. The twins’ parents thought of MOL as a good way for the teenagers to connect to their family’s history, especially since Holocaust survivors also attend MOL each year, and transmit their stories and the importance of “never forgetting” to the next generation.
“What surprised me about the trip was that I always thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust because I heard stories from my family when I was growing up, but there is something so impactful about physically walking through history alongside survivors who experienced these atrocities first-hand,” Emma shared.
Accompanied by Holocaust survivors, dedicated staff, spiritual leaders and chaperones, MOL participants spend their first week in Poland, followed by a week in Israel. In powerful contrast to the WWII-era Nazi death marches, students go on a life-affirming march in Poland: between Auschwitz and Birkenau. The group flies to Israel for the second part of the trip and the second march, which starts outside Jerusalem, goes through Jerusalem’s Old City and ends at the Western Wall.
Israel is a kind of homecoming for many of the participants, as it represents the bright future of the Jewish community. “We all felt so proud to be Jewish,” Emma explains. “There is an indescrible energy that everyone really bonds over, and it’s something that has stuck with me, even since returning home to Montreal.”
Students spend Shabbat on the Kinneret, visit the Dead Sea and Masada, and explore Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The trip reaches its peak on Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, as students celebrate alongside MOL delegations from across North America and around the world.
“MOL definitely reaffirmed my connection to the Jewish community in a way — it made me more aware of my past and of my own family history,” expressed Emma. Since returning home, she has used her MOL experience to inspire others to apply, relaying that “if you have the opportunity, it’s something that you have to do!”
Applications for the 2020 March of the Living are now open and EMSB students are strongly encouraged to apply by visiting federationcja.org/MOL.
For more information, please contact Tristan Dorfman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 514.734.1419