Rachel Adams, of Thornhill, Ontario, was the winner of the Spring 2016 Photo Contest. She is a member of Temple Har Zion, is active in NFTY-NEL, and has been a camper at Camp George. Here, she describes the inspiration for her winning photo.
Our EIE trip to Poland was one of the hardest but most memorable weeks of my life. As we traveled around Poland, I learned so much about the history of the Jewish people. I still find it hard to wrap my head around the information that we were taught. This trip didn’t only focus on the terrible events that took place during the Holocaust but also on the life of the Jewish people. By the end of the trip, I realized the tragedies were overshadowed by the brave acts of resistance and the amazing stories of survival.
Rabbi Emil Fackenheim, a Holocaust survivor, wrote, “Jews are forbidden to hand Hitler posthumous victories, they are commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish People perish.” This statement is considered to be the 614th mitzvah that Jews must follow. He is saying that we must not let Hitler achieve his goals of wiping out the Jewish people through the Holocaust, and we do this by keeping the Jewish religion alive.
I think that this photograph strongly represents Rabbi Fackenheim’s statement. The photograph shows someone carrying the Israeli flag while walking through one of the many death camps that were in use during the Holocaust. It shows that we have survived and even managed to start our lives again.
If Poland taught me one thing, it is how strong the Jewish people are. The stories of survival showed me how far we have come. There has always been anti-Semitism in the world but the Jewish people have flourished and will continue to be strong.