From Mumbai to March of the Living: Bringing Holocaust education to Jewish Indian teens

by | Dec 21, 2016 | Other News

Last December I traveled to India with American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Entwine. My peers and I connected with the Jewish community, particularly the Jewish Youth Pioneers (JYP), a young-adult delegation of Jewish-Indians who live in the greater Mumbai region. A highlight of the trip was spending Shabbat with the JYP at a retreat in Dapoli, south of Mumbai on the Arabian Sea, where we had meaningful conversations about life and Judaism.

Over the course of the trip we delved into topics ranging from Jewish relationships to a text study, but the program that I found most poignant was on the Holocaust. As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and a former student of Hebrew Academy of Tidewater, I consider myself well informed about the Holocaust, as did most of the Americans.

However, this was not the same for our JYP friends. They told us that in India many people admire Hitler for his leadership style and overlook the fact that he killed 11 million people. For most, their public school education about the Holocaust consisted of a sentence or two in a textbook. My American peers and I were shocked and disturbed by this.

Near the conclusion of our trip, the American delegation gathered to discuss how we wanted to bring India home. I proposed sponsoring a member of the JYP to attend the March of the Living, a program that brings teens from around the world to march together to Auschwitz in Poland and then visit Israel. It’s the ultimate way to study the Holocaust. While the JDC used to send teen delegates from India on the March, it no longer has the funding to do so. We decided we wanted to make this trip a reality again for Indian teens.

Almost a year later, our idea is close to becoming a reality. My peers and I started a fundraiser to send delegates from the Jewish-Indian community on the March of the Living this spring. Through the United Kingdom Delegation of March of the Living, it costs $1,500, plus a round trip flight for one person to attend this powerful week long experience in Poland and Israel. Our goal is to raise $6,000 to send three Jewish-Indian leaders, to be able to provide a meaningful and educational experience, and also to create ambassadors to the Jewish and wider community in India. first person

 Elli Friedman