My name is Rachel Samitt and I feel very privileged to have been a part of Valley Chabad’s first Eternal Flame Teen Fellowship program. Thank you to the Goerge and Martha Rich Foundation and to Valley Chabad!
As a Jewish teen, I always had strong feelings about the Holocaust. But I knew little about the details of the horrific events and I lacked a real connection to the Holocaust. I have never really had the opportunity to hear firsthand what the Jews in Europe experienced. I’ve read about it and spoke about it in school but Eternal Flame made it personal and changed my perspective in a way I never thought it would.
With the teen fellowship, we were 20 teens, from across the Pascack Valley. We all came from different schools, backgrounds and towns, and a lot of us didn’t know each other previously. Eternal Flame united us as a group and ignited the flame of Judaism within us.
Hearing first hand from survivors was a highlight. Listening to the stories, I saw immense strength and spirit. It taught me to appreciate life to its fullest and that every day is a gift. I also recognized the importance of being educated in the Holocaust as the last generation to live amongst survivors. It is our generation’s job to retell these stories and horrifying realities to the generations to come so that it is never forgotten.
Walking through the Holocaust museum in Washington I saw that despite pain and torture, our people remained connected to their people and to their faith. Many walked to the gas chambers singing the Shema and prayed to G-d as they were on the fence of death. Nothing created such a passion inside of me like that did. I had never felt more proud of my Jewish Heritage.
I think the most important thing I learned on this trip was that we are here, we are the next generation, and we need to say never again. We need to fight for Jews rights every day and we need to support Israel. Without this trip, this flame wouldn’t have been lit inside of me, and I wouldn’t have such a passion to live tall and proud. I now passionately feel the importance of us, the next generation, to live a life as a committed people.
– Rachel Samitt, 17, Woodcliff Lake