March of the Living Celebrating 25th Anniversary as a Global Phenomenon with Miami Roots
One hundred thirty local residents assembles on March 28 to become part of a legacy that changed modern Jewish education, as they depart on the 25th annual March of the Living, a two-week journey to Poland and Israel. March of the Living was launched by Miami’s Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) in 1988, when 50 high school students, Holocaust survivors and chaperones visited landmarks of Nazi genocide in Eastern Europe and then traveled directly to Israel to witness a flourishing Jewish society. This year, 300 South Floridians – 130 from Miami – will join 15,000 Jewish youth from around the world, as they experience a similar itinerary in Poland and Israel. The program is now formally known as the Leo Martin March of the Living, in memory of Holocaust survivor Leo Martin of Miami, one of its founders and most avid supporters. CAJE is a subsidiary of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
“Twenty-five years ago, the March of the Living was born in Miami as entirely new idea,” said Dr. Leon Weissberg, Director of the Leo Martin March of the Living. “Now it is a rite of passage for all Jewish high school juniors and seniors in our community. In 25 years, more than 1,600 local participants have taken part in the March.”
After arriving in Poland, March of the Living participants will join in 70th anniversary commemorations of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, an historic act of Jewish resistance in which a poorly armed ghetto population courageously confronted overwhelming numbers of Nazi SS troops to avoid transportation to the Treblinka extermination camp. Ultimately, the Nazis killed 13,000 Jewish men, women and children in Warsaw.
Among other experiences in Poland will be a visit to Plonsk where there will be a dedication to the town’s most famous progeny, the late David Ben- Gurion, an outspoken Zionist who later became Israel’s first Prime Minister.
The March of Living contingent will arrive in Israel on April 12 in time to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel. They will join Israeli citizens in anniversary festivities and also will travel the country to gain a complete perspective of the greatest triumph of the Jewish people in the 20th century.
The impact of the March is so profound that a number of participants from its earliest years are now sending their offspring on the trip. This multi-generational phenomenon is now being duplicated in Jewish communities worldwide, as the March of the Living is recognized as a critical global tool for Holocaust remembrance and education.
For more information about the March of the Living, contact Dr. Leon Weissberg, Director, at 305.576.4030.