Three cities – One voice

The March of the Nations: Israel and the Nations together in Friendship

A true explosion of joy marked the March of Nations on June 20, when about 1000 Israelis and international participants marched together through three cities of Israel.

It was the last day of school for the Israeli students - a day that you would normally spend at the beach as a family. But in Sderot, Kfar Saba and Tiberias, students, soldiers and families gathered for the March of the Nations on Thursday afternoon. Among the people marching were several Holocaust survivors who told their personal stories during a meeting preceding the march. One of them was Leopold Yehuda Fischer, who was born in 1937, in what was then Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia. In a striking way, he described how one day, two SS men came and took his father away. From that day on, the seven-year-old had no father. For Leopold himself an odyssey of escape and hiding began: In a monastery in Prague, three months in a wooden box in the garden, later several months in a hole in the ground: ‘I could not move, I was not allowed to make a sound at all. I don't know what I was doing in there all day, but I knew I was in that hole because I was Jewish. Today I am 82 years old, I live in a Jewish state and I am proud to be a Jew!’
Descendants of perpetrators shared the stories of their families, who were responsible for the very persecution, plundering and murder the Holocaust survivors in the three cities spoke about. At the March of the Nations they walked together as a sign of friendship that does not stop with the past but stands against the growing anti-Semitism worldwide and in turn side by side with the Jewish state today.

Nowhere is this solidarity more appreciated than in Sderot, situated just one kilometre from the Gaza Strip, where rocket alarms and waiting in bunkers are part of everyday life. The most recent attack that struck a Yeshiva had been just a week before the March of the Nations. Loud honking and waving from the cars accompanied the singing and dancing march through the city centre. The Chief Rabbi of Guatemala, Yosef Garmon, described the experience at the closing ceremony: "In the Shoah there were only two questions: Where is God? And: Where were the people? And when I saw you today, I realized - you are the people and God is with you". He himself would now bring a March of Life to Guatemala.
The mayors of all three cities were enthusiastic about the joy, friendship and many meaningful encounters during the march. "This is your city now! You are part of us and you must come again next year," said the Mayor of Tiberias. In Sderot and Kfar Saba there are going to be marches every year as well.

In preparation for the March of the Nations, the international participants gathered for a two-day conference in Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem. The conference started with a gala dinner ‘A Night to Honor Israel’ in the Blaustein Hall with a breathtaking view of the Old City of Jerusalem by night. Many friends of the March of Life movement, from Israeli political circles and society, as well as from Christian and Jewish works, celebrated together with the participants. Knesset member Orit Farkash-Hacohen expressed her deep appreciation to the international representatives of the March of Life: ‘Leadership is an inner attitude expressed in your values. And when I see you all gathered here from different nations as non-Jews who have committed themselves not to accept new anti-Semitism and who, in addition, provide practical help to Holocaust survivors, then you embody true leadership.’

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem, welcomed the participants in the capital city and explained the importance of the March of the Nations by reading the Torah section of the week about the disbelief of Moses' scouts. The sin of the spies at that time had been their disbelief, which had led to fear. "I want to thank you for having the faith and determination that we who live here lack for ourselves. For sometimes we cannot see beyond our fear. But you are the ones who give us the faith and the determination to go on. Therefore: "Thank you from my heart, from the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish people".

At the conference, the speakers encouraged the participants in different teachings and seminars to that very determination, which does not yield to fear, or chooses the seemingly simpler way of assimilation, but remains committed to the ways of God. This was not only a preparation for the March of the Nations in the different cities of Israel, but encouraged everyone to be a light in their own environment and to raise their voice for Israel.


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