Hope is a vital part of this experience; you must see the worst of consequences to understand the possibility of a recurrence of another situation such as this, and in turn, predict how much better the world could be without such threats. This project was not just about visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau; it was about understanding the world and learning the lessons that must be passed on to all of us to prevent us making the same mistakes as our predecessors.
We ended our trip with a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced; we heard stories and songs to wish the victims well in their afterlife, wherever they may be. In Jewish tradition, candles are left in memory of the dead, so to conclude the ceremony, we each left a candle on the ground in memory of the prisoners. Seeing the light of all of those candles glowing together, as one, was incredibly moving – it was beautiful. It was alive.
The whole experience taught me so many lessons, especially to appreciate the gift of life; a fragile thing which we could lose it at any time. No one can know for sure what the future holds, and after having this experience, some of us were left with the sense that there can be no God, no justice, if this could happen. After the program, I simply believe that all we can do is keep our faith strong not only in our chosen Gods, but in humanity as a whole, as it is only us who can prevent such acts from occurring by reflecting on the past, learning from the mistakes we have made and teaching our children to do the same.
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