The March of the Living: Zooming with Survivors
Posted on 04/05/2021 @ 08:00 AM
In these strange times, CAJE is challenged to accomplish its goals even under difficult circumstances.
One of those challenges is to help elderly Holocaust Survivors, who often are not well-versed in today’s technology, share their testimony with students via Zoom!
As the Miami March of the Living (MOTL) embraces the educational changes we are faced with due to the pandemic, so do our beloved Survivors, who are still trying to make sure that future generations continue to be their voice.
Recently, the virtual MOTL program had the honor of speaking with two Survivors, Sam Peltz, who hid from the Nazis in the forest and fought in the resistance, and Bessie Bedzow, who survived work camps and is grandmother of MOTL alum and committee member, Laura Sheridan Raiffe.
Students were asked to watch the movie Defiance (2008) prior to the session so we could connect the events in the film to the stories they would hear. In order to understand the breadth and depth of the Shoah, we discussed the myriad kinds of survivor experiences such as: those who were hidden, labored in work camps, fought violently, fought spiritually, hid their Jewish identity, were enslaved in concentration/death camps, as well as so many variations on all the above.
Although it was all through Zoom, the last three virtual MOTL sessions have provided students an intimate space to learn from Survivors. A big motivating factor for the success of these interactions has been the willingness of Survivors to log on to Zoom and charge the students to stand up against hate and be aware of social justice issues.
Sam Peltz made it clear as to why he is speaking to this group when he explained:
“I want to tell the young people – all of you – to WAKE UP and be aware as to what happened and what can happen to Jews if they don’t pay attention to what is going on the country they live in."
MOTL participants are excited to join in the upcoming community events for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day).
Traditionally, on Yom HaShoah, marchers wear blue jackets as they march from Auschwitz to Birkenau. This year, MOTL participants and alumni alike have the opportunity to participate in many virtual programs that are being offered in the community, such as:
- Taking part in the March of the Living global plaque project, creating a virtual plaque to fight against antisemitism and hate.
- On Yom HaShoah, April 8th participants and alumni are invited to post a picture of themselves in their blue jackets and share it on social media by tagging @miamimotl.
- Other programs that are being offered are “Medicine and Morality”, the Virtual March of the Living, “In Dialogue” in partnership with Hillel of FIU and a Virtual Community Commemoration hosted by the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial.