Arlington High School
“It felt like this is the most important thing I’ve ever done” That is my response whenever someone asks me the infamous question, “How was your trip?” It is the question I get from just about everyone, from family to neighbors to friends. It was so hard to narrow this trip down to just a quick response because this trip was so many things. It was powerful to walk on the ashes of our ancestors. It was heartbreaking to hear the story of how children were ripped from their parents before being murdered. It was eye-opening to finally start to grasp the scope of how many people were killed. I had heard 6 million over and over but I had never truly understood what it meant until this trip. The fact that at least 6 million Jews were killed and we only have 4 million names means that there are over 2 million people that no one will ever remember. There are 2 million people who have no one to remember the fact that they loved watermelon or that their favorite color was yellow. All of this basic information is gone, even down to something as fundamental as their name.
Learning that information was when I truly understood the power of something as small as a name. One name I will never forget is Ruth Dorfman. When we went to Treblinka we heard Samuel Willenburg recounting his experience. He mentioned this girl who he always remembered. Her name was Ruth Dorfman. He said that the look she gave him as she left what would be her last stop before death was like she was not just saying goodbye to him, but goodbye to the entire world. Ruth was only 19 at the time of her death and everything I have read about her mentions her long beautiful hair and how Samuel was forced to shave it off. After hearing her story, I sat and wrote how much I wish I could have known her, how much I wish her grandchildren and I could have been friends, maybe even have gone to Hebrew school together. Ruth Dorfman is a name I don’t think I will ever forget. I will remember her name for every name I will never know and for every person who has no one to remember them.
But something I will also never forget is how this group of amazing kids truly made this trip extraordinary. They are what make it so hard to condense into just one sentence because they were there for the hard times but they were also there for every ice cream trip and every long goofy bus ride. They took this impactful and heartbreaking experience and added the light it needed to be indescribable.
This trip was the most important thing I have ever been a part of and has given me stories I will never forget and an urge to share the passion and knowledge I have found with others.