KM is a student at the University of Southern California studying architecture. She is from Encino, CA and has lived her whole life in Southern California. She comes from two Israeli parents and has a strong Jewish background as most of her family lives in Israel. She attended a private Jewish high school and learned Hebrew over the course of her school career. She actively participates in many holiday traditions and prayer rituals.
Is there any significant milestone other than a bat mitzva that you have in your young-adult life?
KM: Well when we graduate high school we go on a trip called March of the living where we basically tour all the concentration camps in Europe and travel to meet with others Jews who do it as well. Every year the graduating class at Jewish schools across the world do it and other Jewish organizations do it as well.
How is did that experience or tradition effect you?
KM: It was an amazing experience and it changed my life and my view on my heritage as a Jewish-American. Going to the concentration camps made me very emotional because many of my ancestors went through that experience in WWII. I think that it gave me a better perspective on how close our Jewish community is as well. When we got to meet Jewish people from all over the world and talk to them about our religion it was very comforting that we found solace in other people.
What was the most influential part of the trip?
KM: I think it was the march in general and especially when we went through the forest that people had to walk through or labor in where many people died. The trees were narrow and if someone walked more than 5 yards ahead they would disappear completely which was a scary thing to see how easily one could get lost or run off but they couldn’t for fear of being killed. Also, many people were killed out there which made the silence of the walk eerie and something I will never forget.
The march of the living is a very important trip for young Jewish people. The experience the true persecution of the holocaust and it is extremely eye-opening for most of them. I think it is a week where they focus on their culture and also connecting with others who share the same cultural identity and history. It is a tradition that is a bit newer but, still has had a dramatic effect on Jewish people around the world.