6 Million Steps Campaign Comes to Philadelphia

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A group of people dressed in white walk together.
Participants walk together toward Holocaust Memorial | Photo by Heather M. Ross

In advance of Yom Hashoah, about 100 people participated on April 24 in a Holocaust memorial walk dedicated to the 1.5 million children who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Walkers wearing white shirts, carrying yellow roses and waving Israeli flags started at the “Rocky” steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art then headed down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza. A ceremony there hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia culminated the event.

The walk was part of the international 6 Million Steps campaign sponsored by the Israeli American Council. Its goal is to remember the lives lost in the Holocaust and build community to combat resurgent antisemitism across the globe.


The campaign urges people across the world to dedicate their steps from their walks to remember those killed. Since the campaign began on April 1 it has reached more than 30 million steps, surpassing its goal of 18 million. The IAC has set a goal for each community to complete 6 million steps.

Before embarking on the walk, participants outside the art museum shared stories of Holocaust survivors, sang “Eli Eli” by Hannah Szenes and donned nametag stickers where they wrote in the names of the people they were walking to remember.

Szenes was a Hungarian Jewish World War II resistance fighter who wrote the poem in 1942; the song was set to music by David Zehavi, an Israeli composer, in 1945.

Ella Dotan and Rotem Shcori told the story of their grandmother, a survivor, in Hebrew and in English. The crowd listened silently while the girls spoke, telling their grandmother’s story about how some members of her family went one direction and lived while others were sent the other way at the camp and were never seen or heard from again.

Participants ranged from babies in strollers to grandparents. Together, they each logged more than 5,000 steps.

 

A young boy holds a yellow rose and looks thoughtful.
Participants listening to speakers | Photo by Heather M. Ross

Many of the attendees were members of Shevet Paamon, the Israeli Scouts of Philadelphia. The scouts held a program for children from third to 12th grade where they discussed the Holocaust.

The event also included about 20 people who were visiting from Israel.

“We definitely made a mark. We brought people closer together. We strengthened our community through this event,” said Adi Ozery, the regional director for the IAC.

Ozery and her husband, Boaz, walked with their three children. Ozery told her children why they were walking and why it was so important.

“This is our heritage, this is our history. We say that we remember and will never forget. We don’t want it to happen again,” Ozery said.

Ozery, 38, came to Philadelphia with her family two years ago for her husband’s job. Her family is closely connected to Israel and it was difficult to leave, so she said she aims to bring her family closer to Israel and its traditions.

Although the event has passed, would-be participants can still contribute and remember the Holocaust.

People can walk independently this month and dedicate their walks online to contribute their steps. Walkers can log their steps at 6msteps.org.

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