'Like a punch in the gut': Local group chronicles a journey of Holocaust rememberance, faith

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati area high school students observed Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day in an up close and personal way this week, by silently marching between two Nazi concentration camps in Poland along with 10,000 other youth from around the world.

The 33 teens and their adult chaperones are traveling from Poland to Israel to explore their Jewish faith with Cincinnati's March of the Living delegation.

So far they've walked the streets of Warsaw and toured the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Each day a member on the delegation blogs about the experience, describing what the group saw and sharing reactions.

Through Rick Lefton's eyes:

WCPO.com is following the March of the Living Cincinnati delegation's travels online.

Six days into the two-week journey chaperone Rick Lefton shared this emotional blog post:

"Six days...we have been on this journey for six days. The number six has been looming large over these last 24 hours.

As we now really start to get comfortable with each other...like you would be with a brother, or sister...the relentless volume of information detailing precisely how six million Jews were murdered has now found its way into our hearts, our thoughts, our emotions....on day six.

Peppi...our gift from G_D guide through this life changing experience delivers the information with such passion that every story...every word of every story is a treasure. She knows the content is hard to comprehend at times...but she knows just when to push us.

Example....a 10 minute story about a man arriving in Birkenau completely unaware of what was about to happen...this man refuses to drop his package of personal items on the pile with the others
and is beaten to death...in front of the group. Peppi knows we are starting to get numb from the onslaught of horrific stories and refocuses us all with

'HEY...you know what...that man was beaten to death in this exact spot!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM TELLING YOU...IN THIS EXACT SPOT!!!'

It knocks the wind out of you like a punch in the gut on a bitter cold day. We are not touring a movie set in Hollywood...we are here...it happened RIGHT HERE! Amazing woman...changing the way we all see the world."

According to the group's Twitter account, the 33 students and their chaperones landed in Israel Wednesday.

What is March of the Living?

March of the Living is a silent walk in Poland that honors Yom HaShoah, Holocaust  Remembrance Day.
The massive group marches from Auschwitz to Birkenau, two of the most notorious concentration camps.

After the march they depart for Israel to observe Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Remembrance Day, and Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.

Photos and experiences are posted on the website and the group's Facebook page.

For more, information visit:
• The blog: http://motl2013.blogspot.com/
• Facebook: http://on.fb.me/ZdhCp3


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