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April 18, 2005


Grant From Anti-Defamation League Funds Visit to Poland, Israel

NEW YORK, April 18, 2005 – Ten City College of New York (CCNY) Jewish studies majors will travel to Poland and Israel next month for the 2005 March of the Living, an international, educational program that brings students to places where the horrors of the Holocaust and the miracle of the creation of modern Israel occurred.

The 10 students, who hail from nine different countries and only one of whom is Jewish, are making the trip through the generosity of the New York Region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL elected to provide a $50,000 grant to fund the trips after members of its leadership read about the CCNY’s Jewish Studies program, which serves a predominantly non-Jewish student body, in an article in The New York Times last fall.

“The trip will give these students an opportunity to grasp the Holocaust and the creation of Israel and why they are important,” said Joel J. Levy, executive director of the ADL’s New York region. “This will truly round out their education.”

“This will be a life-changing experience,” added Professor Roy Mittelman, Director of Jewish Studies at The City College. “None of these students has been there before, and while they have been studying intensely about Jewish life, every other academic experience pales in comparison to actually standing in Auschwitz.”

The March of the Living, which runs May 3 – 12, is timed so that participants visit Poland during Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, and are in Israel for Yom HaZikaron, Israel Memorial Day, and Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. This year’s program commemorates the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and 18,000 participants, the most ever, according to Mr. Levy, are expected.

A highlight of the trip is a three-kilometer march that retraces the final steps of countless Jews and others from the concentration camp at Auschwitz to the gas chambers and crematoria at Birkenau. Other sites to be visited in Poland include the Warsaw Ghetto and the factory in Cracow owned and operated by Oscar Schindler, a businessman who saved 1,200 Jews from the death camps. In Israel, the students will visit both contemporary and ancient sites, including The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Western Wall, the Kenesset, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Beer Sheva, Masada and the Dead Sea.

“It will be very moving to visit the camps and meet survivors,” said Shivani Subryan, a CCNY senior born in Guyana who majors in Jewish studies and psychology. “I anticipate a very intense experience that will give me an opportunity to grow spiritually.”

During the first two-thirds of the 20th Century, large numbers of Jewish students attended CCNY. Many were foreign born or first generation Americans and could not afford – or were denied access to – prestigious private colleges. Their ranks dwindled in recent years as the demographic composition of New York’s working class and immigrant population shifted.

Despite this, enrollment in Jewish Studies classes is on an upswing at CCNY, even among non-Jews, because of the curriculum’s relevance to today’s students, explained Professor Mittelman. “The questions we ask and address in our courses are questions college age students think about all the time. We help them find out who they are and where they are going.”

“It’s given me a way to think about life, and relationships,” said Ms. Subryan. “Before I was more abrupt, but I’ve learned to think in an ethical perspective and can appreciate other cultures.”

The other students participating in the trip, and their countries of origin, are: Therese Collins, Antigua; Sharon Fader, United States; Kerry Farias, Colombia; Memuna Kamara, Sierra Leone; Jichan Kim, South Korea; Kate Rowland, United States; Angelica Rodriguez, Dominican Republic; Katarina Sefrankova, Slovakia, and Stephania Solomon, Haiti.