Alberto Levy, a young Jewish leader from Panama, addresses the Emerging Leadership Conference in Krakow, May 1, 2019.
(photo credit: YOSSI ZELINGER)
KRAKOW – Young Jews will not only remember and commemorate the Holocaust, but will act to ensure that the phrase “never again” becomes a reality.
That was the promise made by 20 rising Jewish leaders from around the world on Wednesday, as they gathered at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University for the first Emerging Leadership Conference, a new global effort against antisemitism led by March of the Living.
More than 10,000 young adults are currently participating in the March of the Living in Poland, due to culminate at Birkenau on Thursday. Amid a rise in violent antisemitic attacks worldwide, this year’s march is dedicated to the ongoing fight against intolerance.
Following intense deliberations, conference participants signed a joint declaration vowing to fight intolerance and calling on young people to oppose racism at any place and any time, proving that Holocaust Remembrance Day is not just about commemoration, but also about taking action today.
“It’s not enough to study and learn about the Holocaust – instead, we must fight and we must act now,” said 29-year-old Alberto Levy from Panama, a victim of an online antisemitic attack.
“We need to fight back against racism, intolerance and bigotry, regardless of whether that attack is directed against Jews or others. We know what happened here 80 years ago, and it’s our obligation as Jews and human beings to ensure that this never happens again,” Levy said.
The declaration will be read to thousands at the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Thursday afternoon, as this year’s week-long March of the Living event arrives at its climax.
“We cannot and will not be bystanders, and we will not allow antisemitism to go on rising while we don’t do everything in our power to stand against it,” said Baruch Adler, vice-chairman of International March of the Living.
“We will fight against hate, and the declaration that we put forth today will be the beginning of that daily fight.”
Since March of the Living was established in 1988, over 260,000 participants from 52 countries have silently marched the three-kilometer path from Auschwitz to Birkenau, commemorating the horrors of the Holocaust.
During those years, presidents, prime ministers, politicians and military and civil society leaders have marched alongside the thousands of Jews and non-Jews taking part in the organization’s annual pilgrimage.
On Thursday afternoon, accompanied by Holocaust survivors, participants from 41 countries across the globe will march to Birkenau and pledge to keep the legacy of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of Nazi Germany alive.
This year’s march will also remember the once-thriving Jewish community of Greece, of whom almost 90% perished in the Holocaust. Joining the march from Greece will be Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, and Nikos Voutsis, Speaker of the Greek Parliament.
Also marching will be Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog; US ambassadors, including Israel envoy David Friedman; and an international delegation of ambassadors led by Danny Danon, the permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations.
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