Voices of Hope is a non-profit organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors from across Connecticut. The organization empowers people of all faiths to stand up against hatred through Holocaust and genocide education and remembrance. Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford is honored to support their critical work, particularly during this time of rising antisemitism and Holocaust denial.
The road between the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland stretches for just over three kilometers—but for the thousands who walked it during the 35th annual March of the Living, the emotional distance they traveled was beyond measure. This year’s march, which follows the route taken by prisoners forced to walk between the two camps, took place on April 18 and included 27 delegates organized by Connecticut’s Voices of Hope.
For 35 years, March of the Living has drawn more than 300,000 international visitors, the vast majority of which are young people. Those gathered commemorate Yom HaShoah at the site where nearly one-million Jews were murdered, as well as honor those who survived. This year’s event also marked the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the largest Jewish revolt in WWII, and the 75th anniversary of the state of Israel. The group that came together this past April was composed of 10,000 visitors from 25 countries.
Originally planned for 2020, Voices of Hope led a delegation of mostly Connecticut residents to Poland for this year’s march, where they learned about the richness of Jewish life before the Nazi atrocities. The delegates visited key sites of Jewish oppression in Poland before traveling to Israel for an anniversary celebration. Rabbi Rachel Zerin of West Hartford’s Beth El Temple offered spiritual context for their experience, including a recitation of Kaddish following visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Majdanek, and the Warsaw Ghetto. Samuel Kassow, renowned Jewish historian and author of “Who Will Write Our History?” provided essential historical context to the grateful travelers, including at the Polin Museum, located at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, where he helped create several exhibits.
The group was also honored to have in their midst Andy Sarkany, a New Haven resident and one of only 42 survivors in attendance. During Havdalah, Andy recounted his story of survival to a group of young people from Panama. “You could hear a pin drop,” said one delegate, noting, “This is the last generation that will hear from a survivor firsthand.” Members of a West Hartford family also joined the delegation, representing three generations of descendant survivors: George Bacall, his daughter Lindsay Tringali, and granddaughter Eva Tringali. CNN’s Dana Bash, herself a descendant of survivors, interviewed George about his experience. (Click here to watch George’s interview, found at 4:21.)
For Adele Jacobs, trip delegate and first vice president for Voices of Hope, the March of the Living gives her the opportunity to research and honor lost family members. “My search for any thread of my family’s history becomes more urgent with age, and while one week can feel like a very long time in that dark place, the sorrow over what one hour [or] one day in Auschwitz must have been like is devastatingly sad—but that is not a reason for not going,” said Adele. “We must not let the evil of antisemitism and hatred win. We are here.”
According to Robin Landau, the trip’s primary organizer and Voices of Hope’s director of programming, education is a key objective of March of the Living, as it is for the organization at large. She added that this year’s experience renewed each traveler's commitment to keep alive the memories of those lost to the Holocaust and to combat antisemitism wherever it takes root. “Everyone who came back from the trip talked about the importance of seeing these sites for themselves,” she said. “They came back committed to doing more and, in fact, many from our group are now involved in [advocacy and education] projects.”
Kathy Fishman, executive director of Voices of Hope, reflected on the personal impact of this year’s trip. “You can read all of the books, watch all the movies, hear all the stories—but until you actually walk on the grounds where millions perished and experience the sites firsthand, you can’t really know,” she said. “It’s absolutely life changing.” Kathy also noted the joyous mood the group encountered in Israel, where crowds took to the streets in celebration of the nation’s anniversary.
This year’s trip was made possible by funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, as well as donor grants from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, and Beth El Temple of West Hartford. Voices of Hope has already begun planning a similar trip in 2025, with emphasis on travelers between the ages of 20 to 40. Those interested in learning more should contact Robin Landau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above: Voice of Hope delegates gather for March of the Living