9th International March of Life Conference – Am Yisrael Chai!

From February 10 to 12, the 9th March of Life Conference took place at the TOS Community and Conference Center in Tübingen, Germany. Under the title “Never Again – Now More Than Ever!” organizers and supporters from 24 nations came together to stand together against anti-Semitism.

At the conference, the motto for this year’s March of Life around Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, was announced: “Am Israel Chai – The People of Israel Lives!” It is the movement’s response to the brutal attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023, and the anti-Semitism currently visible around the world.

The conference began on Saturday morning with forward-looking impulses, including from Jobst Bittner. He emphasized the urgent need for a new strategy in the fight against anti-Semitism and encouraged people to openly stand up for Israel. Heinz Reuss pointed to the alarming rise of anti-Semitism worldwide and warned against public indifference to anti-Semitic incidents.

Relatives of the kidnapped Israeli hostages, connected via Zoom, shared their harrowing experiences, including Rosita Ziv, mother of Shlomi Ziv. As part of the security team, Shlomi had secured the site of the Nova Festival, which was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7, killing over 350 people. Rosita appealed to the international community and politicians to do everything possible to bring back the abductees from Gaza.

In the afternoon, various workshops and seminars were held, including one with Alfred Garwood, a Holocaust survivor and psychoanalyst from the UK, who shared his moving life story. He was a victim of medical experiments as a child in Bergen-Belsen and now helps other survivors to overcome trauma.

The highlight of the conference was the evening in honor of Israel. Michael Kashi of the Israelite Religious Community of Württemberg and Christian Gehring, a member of the Baden-Württemberg state parliament, were also present. Both emphasized the need not only to say “never again,” but to act accordingly. Arye Sharuz Shalicar, military spokesman for the IDF, gave an impressive account of his current and personal experiences of life in Israel.

The event was musically accompanied by German-Israeli mezzo-soprano Shai Terry and artists from the March of Life movement. The focus of the evening was the moving story of Alexei Heistver, a survivor of the ghetto in Kaunas, Lithuania. He was also a victim of medical experiments. After Alexei’s uvula was removed, he lost the ability to speak. He and six other children were smuggled out of the Kaunas concentration camp by Lithuanian and Russian women and hidden until liberation.

Participants left the conference with a renewed determination to take action against anti-Semitism and to organize Marches of Life in their cities this year.

GEA article about the Night to Honor Israel:
https://www.gea.de/neckar-alb/kreis-tuebingen_artikel,-abend-zu-ehren-israels-im-t%C3%BCbinger-tos-gemeindezentrum-_arid,6863900.html

 

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