Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is particularly meaningful at ADI Centers as survivors are welcomed and embraced by March of Life volunteers – young men and women of German descent who volunteer in Israel, caring for people with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities and do their part to make amends and distance themselves from the actions of their grandparents and relatives during the Second World War.
Mr. Shai Hajaj, head of the Merhavim Regional Council and Mrs. Alicia Yakovy, founder of Shem V’Ner (Our Six Million – A Candle for Every Name), joined local Holocaust survivors, ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran residents and four March of Life volunteers to remember those who did not survive and raise their voices again anti-Semitism and prejudice. “I cannot change the past,” remarked volunteer Setti, as tears streamed down her face, “but I am here to extend my sincerest hope for a better future.”
Bravely stepping forward to break the silence, Anna opened up to participants. “When I was 11, my mother gave me book about a Jewish girl who grew up in Berlin when the Nazis came to power. The book described how bad the anti-Semitism was and how she fled with her family. It helped me understand what happened . . . (it) taught me that it’s not OK to be indifferent. You have to look inside yourself and take action. German society was indifferent . . .”
Other March of Life volunteers joined the commemorative ceremony at ADI Jerusalem, where residents lit electronic memorial candles using specially adapted switches that enable students to take part as active participants. Following the candle lighting ceremony, residents, staff and volunteers recited Psalms and the traditional memorial prayer, “Kel Malei Rachamim.”
People with disabilities were among the first to be executed by the Nazis, whose horrendous regime oversaw the annihilation of six million Jews. By coming to Israel to volunteer at ADI Centers, the brave, young March of Life volunteers do their part to advance humanity by creating a better, more caring society, promoting the uncompromising belief in the equality of all people.