March of the Living 200618,000 people participated in this year’s March of the Living. 1000 of those were from Canada (Jewish pop. under 250,000) and 500 were from Montreal (Jewish pop. under 100,000 – most young Montreal Jews attend Jewish Day School). Consequently, I would direct you to the Montreal Gazette’s coverage of this year’s event. Today’s Montreal Gazette had on the front page the photo you see here (minus the snarky cartoon text bubbles). It’s of Jory Cohen comforting his friend Dana Drori, both 17, as she breaks down after a memorial ceremony at the Birkenau Death Camp. Dana’s Grandparents, Jack and Chana Berliner were killed at the concentration camp. On the one hand this annual pilgrimage totally rubs me the wrong way. Like we’ve said before, for many Jews, the deification of the Holocaust seems to have overtaken if not outright replaced far more important Jewish values. Their main way of identifying as Jews happens via death and anti-Semitism. I don’t like that at all. But here in Montreal, we have a Jewish community that despite annoying the bejeezus out of me sometimes, sends an inordinate amount of kids to “magic bullet” events like the March of the Living and Birthright, while still managing to send most kids to Jewish day schools. Maybe a focus on the Holocaust is not so bad if it’s also accompanied by copious amounts of long term, solid Jewish education.

And as for Jory and Dana? I can’t speak for them per se, but any (mostly) Jewish gathering that encourages Jew-On-Jew canoodeling is fine with me. Still, I am pretty sure I am going to hell now.

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Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Wait a minute here, this girl’s grandparents were killed in the camp. She’s now 17. That means she was born in 1988. That is 43 years after the holocaust ended. If her grandparents were both killed in the camp, how did they yet manage to have a child, who could still be young enough to give birth to little Dana in 1988?

    and yes ck, i think you are going to hell now.

  • Esther, the grandfolks names are Jack and Chana Berliner. Same last name. we’re back in the box, and it still wouldn’t make sense. If one grandparent on each side died, then BOTH of her parents would have had to been born during or before the holocaust, or else it wouldn’t be her grandparents who died.

  • laya I have no idea. You’re right about the math and all though – it makes no sense unless Dana’s grandparents were involved in some sort of fatal car accident at the camp while on a march of the living thing. Don’t ask me – ask Jeff Heinrich, he wrote the article and his email address is [email protected]. I mean I assume its just a typo but… you just, you know, never know with these people and their amazing time savers.

  • Think outside the box…could be one grandparent from each side.

    Holocaust education without a greater Jewish educational context definitely sends the message that Jewish history and identity is all-Holocaust all the time. The non-secret to Jewish continuity is maintaining a Jewish educational presence throughout the formative years, and reinforcing that message through a home environment that supports tradition (in whatever form).

    And of course, where appropriate, Jew-on-Jew action also helps.

  • Fine…I vote for typo. That’s the last time I try original thought. Back to conformity for me.

    CK, I cannot believe you found that SNL transcript…

  • CK wow not only was that very inapropriate but it was atrociously not funny.almost like something from Heeb Magazine.

  • Jsirpicco HATES HOLOCAUST JUDAISM -Man, talk about Bible thumping Rabbi on Meth…I could go on for DAYS about how the Jewish Establishment, which I also hate, has shoved the Holocaust down our throats until there is NOTHING ANYONE can say, think or feel about it that even approaches a sincere emotion. Ugggh.

    And the chick in the photo? Great. Right. Probably it wasn’t her grandparents. But who cares. It makes for a good caption. Man. Crying at the death camp and then going home and watching Sponge Bob Sqare Pants….and yeah, all the teenage yearning and sexual urges that come up in the place – sex and death after all…so the bubbles were right on, if a bit sophomoric.

    Why can’t people LIVE their Jewish life and be INOVLED in growing as a human being and a yid with kedusha and all that good stuff (shtreimel – if you interrupt me, I’ll spit!) instead of this corporate churned out victimization for upper middle class spoiled brats from Cote St. Luc! (Hah! – see Jsirpicco KNOWS where things are, too!)

  • Hmm, ck, after you called him a whiny little bitch, I believe jsirpicco may have just retaliated and called your humor sophomoric. My sympathies.

  • T.M. – after such a brilliantly funny post such as mine, all you can find in it is that I called ck’s caption sophomoric? What’s up with that, dude?

  • alexbmn: I am glad you qualified your initial disapproval. You get the main point and that’s all that is important really.

    TM: Sophomoric? Maybe. I’d like, cry and stuff, but I am too busy peeling potatos for shabbat.

  • So, here’s my question:

    Is entirely Holocaust-centered Jewish identity or entirely Israel-centered Jewish identity worse?

  • This is the problem with event-based/ history-based theology ie. believing in G-d because of what G-d has done for the Jewish people. When good things happened to the Jewish people, eg. the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, we all rejoice and Thank G-d.
    So, then when terrible things happen to the Jewish people, eg. the Holocaust, do we then blame G-d? NO, of course NOT ! That’s totally blasphemous. However, many people brought up on event-based theology have a tendency to do that. I know whereof I speak, since I have heard these attitudes expressed.
    This is also why some people talk about the Holocaust as the most important thing about Judaism, to the exclusion of prayer, ethics, etc.

    That is why I personally believe in G-d regardless of/ independent of what happens to the Jewish people or any one else.

  • Fineline, I’d rather focus on Israel any day of the week. Despite its many flaws and problems, that country represents a tremendous achievement and one in which one can take a great deal of joy and pride. The Holocaust provides us with an education about our place in the world and perhaps about the world. It’s the kind of education that is important but should not be the focus of our culture.

  • Israel. Definitely Israel. The Holocaust represents a sad past, Israel a brilliant future. Throw in some actual Judaism in there and we’ll be doing just fine! Oh and uh… bootylicious Jew-On-Jew Action. That’s good too.

  • Steve, the last names (Grandparents were Berliner, she is Dorori) suggest the grandparents are on her mothers side.

    and 1.5 opinions, i disagree that an Israel-centric identity portrays Jews as just like everybody else. God doesn’t just go around promising land to every nation, and not every people survives a 2,000 year exile to return, still mostly intact to an ancient homeland. That makes us more unique (and more interesting) than a genocide, no?

  • The problem is the word “entirely.” An education that’s “entirely” anything is entirely too unilateral. I believe in context and nuance and diversity; noting the contemporary and historical significance of Israel, honoring the memory of all persecuted Jews with more than a “they tried to kill us, let’s eat” approach, remembering so we don’t forget, etc. I think that my appreciation for Israel (and the fact that Hebrew exists everywhere) was only enhanced by my understanding of what happened in WWII Europe and my study of how identifying as Jewish or studying Hebrew was forbidden to Jews in the Soviet Union.

    I believe in forging tangible links between Jewish history and contemporary observance/cultural ideations of Jewish life–something that is obviously easiest to do in the living, breathing cauldron of history, emotion and politics that exists in the State of Israel.

    But Judaism is religion, theology, culture, geography, cuisine, psychological neurosis, persecution, redemption, society, family, philosophy, art, music, etc. And it’s not just about Ashkenazi Jews, not just American Jews, not just Israeli Jews. I’m embarrassed by how Ashkenazicentric (and actually, New York-centric) my education is…about how little I know about Sephardic and world Jewry.

    These elements are all part of a larger cultural and educational picture–to set up a choice between Holocaust-centered and Israel-centered isn’t fair: either way, students only get a glimpse of the nuance and depth that Jewish observance/culture/education/history possesses.

    [Esther steps off soapbox, exhausted.]

  • Well, I said “entirely” to refer to those folks we all know whose identity seems to exist solely because of Holocaust issues or Israel advocacy.

    Let’s look at it from an odd perspective:
    Obsession with the Holocaust (and by extension, antisemitism) goes hand in hand with the view that Jews as unique in the world, obsession about Israel goes hand in hand with the view that Jews are no different than any other nation.

    Again, I ask…is one better?

  • Esther, what brand soapbox is that? None of mine ever come out that coherant.

  • If the grandparents are on her dad’s side then there is no problem.

    e.g Dana’s dad could have been born in 1935 and only had Dana when he was 53 in 1988(second marriage?)

    Its even theoretically possible on the mother’s side (although fertility treatments might be needed).

  • Dave,

    You suggest that an “event-based” theology drives people from Judaism when bad things happen. I actually have a theory that event-based theology has played a major role in keeping Judaism strong.

    Think about it. We have to be the only religion in the world whose religious texts are packed with prophecies of terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad things that will happen to us. Sure, we have the good, too. But everywhere you look in the Tanakh, there are these horrible predictions of things to come. Who else records in such detail such things?

    Throughout history, when a society was overwhelmed by another or crushed in war, the members of the vanquished culture accepted (sometimes immediately, sometimes slowly) the conquering culture. Why? They saw defeat as a sign of the superiority of the supplanting culture in some cases. (Not always, but go with me here.) When horrible things happened to Jews, on the other hand, we typically blamed ourselves. We could point to our own holy texts and say: “Well, it does say something like this would happen.” That reaffirmed our identity, belief, and purpose, and hence, we could resist being absorbed.

    Ah, the wonders of pessimism.

  • Good point Laya(albeit not totally conclusive). Maybe she is adopted … or a step grand child.

  • But isn’t the real question… did Jory get some play? Hey! Know what else? If Jory married Dana and took her last name as his, he’d be Jory Dorori.

    What the hell kind of Jewish name is Jory anyway?

  • I’d be willing to bet that some undefined sort of “consolation” transpired. Grief’s a powerful motivator for forging physical connections.

    I’ve actually been fighting a suspicion that Jory’s mother was a fan of V.C. Andrews (Flowers in the Attic) novels. The timing’s about right, as the novels were very popular in the mid-to-late 80s…At some point after the incestuous siblings leave the eponymous attic, the sister has a few non-incestuous babies, one of whom is named Jory. That’s the only place I’ve ever seen that name…

    And if he became a Catholic leader, he could be Monsigniori Jory Dorori.

    And I think it’s time for me to go home…

  • I guess my last comment landed in the junk queue…I’m sure it will be posted eventually…I’d go in and approve it myself, but seem to not be able to login…

    Shabbat shalom, y’all!

  • My cousin’s giving a thing on March of the Living (she works at our local Holocaust Museum, which happens to be one of the oldest in America). And she’s shomeret all mitzvot that apply to unmarried girls and educated in Jewish schools all through…oh, wait, she goes to Touro Manhattan. March of the Living does it for people like that, too.

  • I disagree with you, 1.5 opinions.

    Since I admit that the existence of the Creator cannot be logically proved, even though I believe that the Creator’s existence is an objective fact, I must necessarily believe that the Creator is the only Creator, and therefore although the Creator does direct human history, this is not on a level that we puny humans understand. Therefore there cannot be any quid-pro-quo understandable in the limited human sense ie. if I do something good, I have every confidence that G-d shall reward me, but sometimes or often not in a way my puny human mind can understand.
    The problem with event-based- theology is that it rapidly degenerates into a kind of quid-pro-quo attitude by human beings toward G-d, expecting reward from G-d for every good action and in a way that their puny human minds can understand.
    Furthermore, event-based theology has resulted in a narrow tribalistic attitude towards other human beings on the part of many Jewish people, which I also used to have, but which I consciously every day try to free myself from.
    If we are truly to be a light unto the nations, we must engage them in matters of morality and ethics. We can’t do that if we take the attitude that we’re somehow intrinsically superior.
    Also it generates

  • On the last night of every International USY Conventions, teens run around like crack-stoned freaks looking for some play. The girls as well.

    Similar things happened on the grade 9 trips to Israel.

    CK’s cartoon bubble speaks volumes of truth. And if you’re going to hell, let it be a Bialik grade 9 trip to Israel, and may you return as a grade 9 stud.

  • Shtreimel just summed up the reason why we NCSY kids always envied you USY kids…and still do…

  • CK,
    there are only around 80 000 Jews living in Mtl, and decreasing.
    I got this figure last May from someone working in the community with access to a privately done ‘Jewish’ census. Small familes, aging population, and the few young people leaving are even too much for the local reproducing haredim and religious families in Cote St Luc.

  • I don’t think anyone used the term “rasha,” Mobius. And BTW, I don’t think a caption like this is enough to consign CK to hell. But what do I know? I’m no Suicide Girl.

  • Did I ever call you a rasha Moby? Nooooo… and was this a totally gratuitous and devoid of context alteration of the photo? Noooo…. Didja even read the text accompanying the photo? I dunno – maybe someone in the 126 comments on the Pesach pr0n said you were a rasha – but it warn’t me. So… that thursday thing? Are we on mr. grumpy?

  • I actually went on MOTL last year, and I don’t think it’s wrong to have Jewish identity based on the Holocaust. For me, this event was what cemented my Jewish identity and made me realize how important Israel is. This event not only takes place in Poland; the kids go to Israel afterwards, to mix it up. Of course, then I became a rampant Zionist, which may also be bad. ;o)

  • THis is a bit off topic but just a question … did any of you go on the March of the Living? I haven’t but been thinking about it, so I was wondering if those of you who were bashing the March did that from experience or just from what you know about it. It’d be interesting to go but I’m worried it’ll be a week of heavy-handed shock trip that’s supposed to guilt me into being a better Jew … thoughts?

    p.s. – THat caption was pretty funny. 🙂 I think the Gazette’s been overdoing their coverage just a weeeeee bit

  • I haven’t been. My only real experience with MotL was when I was at Hebrew U. and all of a sudden started seeing blue MotL jackets running around the streets of Jerusalem being all loud and American and stuff. I guess teenage time in Eastern Europe provokes partying in Israel, kind of the way last week’s somber Yom Hashoah observances pave the way for a heightened celebration on Yom Ha’atzmaut.

    PS… on Wed night. Who’s in?

  • Thought Id join the great debate… perhaps they could have been her great grandparents? rather than just her grandparents?

  • Seriously, who’s emailed the writer to find out what’s puzzling us all enough to keep us up so late at night? Someone get on this, ok?

  • I had occasion to go to Akkiva (Akiva?) School in Westmount today… it certainly is sad that they have to have so much security… I guess that’s the trouble with being a “visible” minority… you are “visible” to the tiny percentage of wackos who think that violence can solve anything whatsoever.

  • Below is the prologue of my exhibition of my trip to Poland.
    Please go into the site.
    Click on the painting to get in,then click on the right on each red line
    which are some writing and click on each photo to enlarge.
    I hope that you find this interesting and helpful.

    Kind regards,
    Mike Kaufmann


    I went to Poland in April of 1995 on the March of the Living Tour.

    My intention was not to have an exhibition but to have photographs for
    my own use. I took along several cameras including black and white film,
    being the photographic medium of the time.

    There are a number of photographs that are out of focus for which I do
    not apologize, as it was difficult to focus through my tears.

    There were many pictures that I did not take like the barrack that was
    full of shoes that as I walked in I choked on the smell after 55 years,
    the barrack that was full of suitcases and the barrack that was full of
    children’s toothbrushes and personal effects.

    These photographs are scanned from contacts. The exhibition photos were
    professionally done (some were redone a number of times) to get certain
    effects accentuated like darks darker and lights lighter and to try and
    create moods.

    These effects are not possible to produce on the computer monitor.

    The exhibition was held at the Albow Centre Cape Town , South Africa in
    April 1996 ,was 13m long and 2,7m high, and the background was painted
    black. I tried to create a feeling of the viewer being overwhelmed by
    the blackness and size and drawn in to the beauty and by the deception.

    The idea is, that each picture is in the order that the person who went
    into the camp, walked and saw what I saw. As you look at each picture
    try and imagine yourself walking through this camp not knowing what to
    expect next and in great conflict. The conflict being that as you
    entered the camp, there was a sign that said “Arbeid Macht Frei” (Work
    Makes You Free) and these bureaucrats, in and out of uniform, who are
    only doing their job and carrying out their orders, (which was to
    process your death) who view you as the scum of the earth, demanding
    your number(your name is irrelevant) etc. and recording this in a tome.
    (How much has changed?)

    While on the trip I asked many questions:Why? What is the same now as
    was then?What is different now?What makes the situation now that
    something like this cannot happen again? I have not yet found the
    answers.The level of deception, distortions, myths, the coverups ,the
    spin ,deception by omission and outright lies by the government, the
    media, corporations, organized religion, the scientific establishment,
    and others who want to keep the truth from us,is something that is so
    great the public has no clue as to what is really going on at any given

    “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield
    the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of
    the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of
    its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the
    lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the
    – Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels

    He Believed, was written in April 2000 to try and get some clue as to
    what my Grandfather may have thought at each year and to try and put an
    age to ourselves and those people who are dear to us who do things that
    we really do not understand why they do what they do and think what they
    think, when he only did what he felt to be right, only to be wrong!

    “The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal
    vigilance; which condition if he break , servitude is at once the
    consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” John Philpott
    Curran 1750- 1817

    I want to thank my family for their continuous support, Grant and
    Anthony and Gary who have made this presentation possible.
    Thank You,
    Kind regards,
    Mike Kaufmann