A Powerful Statement Against Modern Anti-Semitism

Around the time of the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom haShoah, thousands of people took to the streets in Marches in Asuncion, Basel, Belfast, Berlin, Bogota, Cordoba, Houston, Warsaw and many other cities. Their message was “Remembering together – for a joint future – no to racism, anti-Semitism and hatred against Israel!” In Halle, the March of Life was awarded the Emil-L.-Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance and Understanding.

At the key note event in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate, Israeli Minister Ayoob Kara, who belongs to the Druze minority in Israel, stressed the importance of a state for the Jewish people after the Holocaust.  Standing for Israel could never be just with words, but needs to be very practical, as the March of Life is. The speakers in Berlin included members of German parliament Steffen Bilger (CDU), Michaela Engelmeier (SPD) and Karamba Diaby (SPD), who made very clear statements against modern anti-Semitism.

Award Ceremony in Halle

It was a special honor for the March of Life Movement to receive the Emil-L.-Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance and Understanding by the Jewish Community in Halle. “You are working miracles!” the renowned Auschwitz Researcher Prof. Dr. Gideon Greif declared in his laudation about the laureate. He stressed that Jobst and Charlotte Bittner's initiative had created a new foundation for the encounter between Jews and Christians. Decades of silence about the truth in families and cities were finally broken. This is a form of silence that once again makes room for anti-Semitism in our society today, as the German Parliament's second official study on Anti-Semitism in Germany from April 24th, 2017 showed. The complete laudation can be found here (in German).

Working Through Our Own Family History: More Necessary than Ever

This is why personal family stories were at the heart of this year's March of Life events – both on the part of the descendants of Nazis perpetrators, and on the part of descendants of victims of the Shoah. In Leipzig, Rabbi Zsolt Balla shared how he had been inspired by the stories of participants of March of Life who had worked through their families' past and how he now asks more questions in his own family. He found that there is also a veil of silence on the side of the victims of the Shoah: “How long must this silence continue? Our remembering has to be a positive, transforming remembrance. Big words and events are good, but not enough.  It is only the personal remembrance that will bring lasting transformation to our mirco-environment.”

This kind of remembrance is at the heart of the memorial events that were held in even closer cooperation with Jewish communities this year. In many locations, the Market Squares resounded with the traditional prayer El Male Rachamim – the Jewish prayer for the souls of the deceased.

This year, Marches of Life took place in a total of 60 cities worldwide. In Bogota, Colombia 1,000 people took to the streets for Marcha de la Vida. In France, the first Marche de Vie will take place on July 9th in Paris. In Belarus, the preparations for Marsz Zysni are going strong for October 22nd.

For the latest videos and pictures of this year's Marches of Life, see www.facebook.com/marchoflife/

Further Marches this year http://www.marchoflife.org/en/v2/footer/events/

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