18,000 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.