Thousands of young people who took part in the March of the Living at Auschwitz came to Israel to celebrate its 69th Independence Day with a festive march to the Western Wall.

March of the Living from Auschwitz to Jerusalem . (photo credit:KKL-JNF)

“In Poland we mourned for the millions who perished in the Holocaust, and here we are celebrating the existence of the State of Israel and the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem,” said 17-year-old James Brenner of South Africa. “The Jewish community has grown and strengthened since those days, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

The activity was organized jointly by KKL-JNF’s Education and Youth Division, KKL-JNF’s Resources, Development and PR Division and the International March of the Living Organization.

During their week in Israel hundreds of these youngsters took part in a green bike ride along KKL-JNF trails. They pedaled through central Israel’s Ben Shemen Forest and Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, and alongside Lake Hula in the north of the country. Along the way they stopped off at instruction points where they learned about KKL-JNF’s activities for the benefit of the Jewish People and the State of Israel over the course of the past 115 years.

The March of the Living, which took place for the 29th year, is held annually at Auschwitz on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day. Participants march from the extermination camp at Auschwitz 1 to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and then afterwards, on Independence Day, the delegations arrive in Israel.

The Jerusalem event opened in Safra Square, home of the capital’s City Hall, with dance performances, singing and drumming circles. After the show was over, the thousands of young people began their march towards the Western Wall. As they walked along, Israeli Air Force planes participating in the festive Independence Day flyover zoomed over their heads from time to time – an impressive reminder of the power of the State of Israel.

An equally strong expression of the power of the Jewish people was the unity displayed by these youngsters who had gathered in Jerusalem from all corners of the world: although they spoke a variety of different languages they were united in their love for Israel.

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