Clearly, Cory Bolotsky knows about pursuing his goals. He is president of his senior class at Manalapan High and a regional president with the Greater Jersey Hudson River Region of BBYO, the Jewish youth group.
This spring, he took on a very special goal — to fulfill the resolution “Never again.”
In April, he was among 10,000 other young Jews from North America and 39 other countries on the March of the Living, the program that brings teens from around the world to Poland to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, and then to Israel for Independence Day.
In answers e-mailed while still traveling, he said that he saw the trip as a chance to learn more about the Holocaust.
“I also wanted it to be my first time in Israel,” said Cory, the son of Nancy Barshay Bolotsky and Craig Bolotsky.
The timing provided an added and incomparable dimension to his last year of school. Next year he will study business administration at Northeastern University in Boston. But first he will be digesting what he described as “the most emotionally draining and amazing two weeks of most of our lives.”
Sometimes revelations come from the most mundane objects. For Cory, there was such power in a pile of shoes he saw in the Polish death camp, Majdanek.
In his blog, he wrote: “Hundreds of thousands of shoes. Each pair with a story. Where that person has traveled, what they accomplished in those shoes. But every single shoe ended their story with ‘…and then I was brought to Majdanek.’”
Despite the horror and hatred evoked by the visits to the death camps, Cory felt the thrill of being with a huge assembly of young Jews.
He wrote on his blog: “We are here and we are hopeful for the future of the Jewish people. We will arrive in Israel full of hope, pride, joy. This is my first time to Israel, and I could not be more excited. I am going to the homeland of my people. I am the living who will march home together with thousands.”
In Israel, it was time for fun. After a welcome ceremony and a Shabbat service on the Tel Aviv beach, participants took off to explore the sights.
Cory told NJJN the entire experience “exceeded my expectations. I have grown a much deeper understanding of the horror and inhumanity of the Holocaust. I have grown a closer connection to my people, the Jewish people, and I have a newfound connection to Israel.”
He added: “Most importantly, I take on a new job title. I am now a witness. In less than two decades, the last survivors will be gone. As one of the few who has gone to the site of the unspeakable tragedies of the Holocaust and heard the outstanding stories of resistance and survival, it is my obligation to share what I have seen and learned so that Elie Wiesel’s vision of ‘Never Again’ is a reality.”
Local support for the March of the Living comes from the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County’s Pauline and Irving Ceranka Fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Foundation.