Holocaust Memorial Day at JCC Krakow

To honor their friend Marcel Zielinski, an Auschwitz survivor from Montreal who walked from Auschwitz to Krakow upon being liberated as a ten year old in 1945, Jonathan and Ride For The Living co-creator, Robert Desmond spent International Holocaust Remembrance Day walking from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow, a trip of 70 kilometers ( 44 miles) that took them 13 hours.

"Auschwitz is so close to us in many ways - geographically, emotionally,  yet we have come so far as a community and as a people and we felt walking to Krakow, as our friend Marcel did, would help us understand and come to terms with that contrast." Jonathan said.

This week we also hosted and participated in several events open to our community members as well as the general public. It is important that we continue to remember, educate, and recognize what our community has gone through and what we want to achieve and build for the future. 

A group of JCC members traveled to Rzeszow for the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. The event consisted of a guided tour of the Jewish area, memorial prayers at the Jewish cemetery with Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler from Warsaw, a lecture about survivors and their families testimonials of survival, and a Catholic Mass with the reading of names of Poles from Rzeszow who were killed for protecting Jews.

Their day ended with a dinner with the organizers of the program and guests from the U.S. and Israel who have Jewish roots from Rzeszow.

This program was made possible by the President of the City of Rzeszow and the University of Rzeszow in conjunction with their Jewish History and Culture department.

Thanks to the courtesy of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the JCC also screened the film, "Genocide" in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.

In 1981, this film became the first Holocaust documentary to receive an Academy Award. It remains today as a chilling and heartbreaking testament to the strength and suffering of the Jewish people and tells the story of courage and heroism of those who came to their aid. The film traces the trajectory of the Nazi annexation through ghettos, camps, and prisons of the Nazi regimes while introducing the lost victims and brave heroes along the way. The film was narrated by Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor.

80 members from the Krakow community attended the event. We were happy to see that so many people had an interest to learn more about the Holocaust and are open to having a conversation on this topic.