Never Means Never: International March of the Living Honors the Medical Community

This year, the March of the Living honors of Holocaust victims and survivors, the medical community, and Dr Anthony Fauci.

Today on Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the International March of the Living commemorates the 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. For 2021, they give special thanks to the health care community community in the special online symposium “Medicine and Morality: Lessons from the Holocaust and COVID-19.” The event was also supported by the Maimonides Institute for Ethics and the Holocaust, the Miller Center at Rutgers University, the USC Shoah Foundation, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

“This year, the International March of the Living proudly dedicates the 2021 Virtual March in honor of the very amazing medical community, as together we proclaim, ‘never means never,’” said Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, President of the International March of the Living said at the commemoration and ceremony for this year’s events.1

Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the US President, also received special recognition. For his work fighting COVID-19 and dedication to the wellbeing of humankind, Fauci received the Moral Courage in Medicine.

Fauci had this to say during his acceptance: “During this past year, we have witnessed unspeakable suffering caused by a terrible pandemic. However, we have also seen thousands of men and women of great moral courage caring for the sick and the dying with compassion and love, risking their own health. We recognize them as heroes and we all remain in gratitude for their sacrifices. At this time of Holocaust remembrance, we also remember the millions taken by unspeakable evil, whose voices nonetheless speak to us across time. It is important we never forget, not just because evil has not been vanquished, but because virtue and goodness must always remain strong in us.”1

In anticipation of the event, psychiatrist Eran Harary, MD, vice president of Global Therapeutic Area Head, Neurology & Psychiatry, Specialty Clinical Development, at Teva shared: “The Nazis and their collaborators worked systematically to exterminate our people, conducting monstrous experiments. We are now a world leader when it comes to science and medicine, developing drugs and bringing improved health to the lives of patients across the world. From a nation that was condemned to death and destruction during the Holocaust, we are a people engaged in preserving life.”2

Harold J. Bursztajn, MD, who attended the symposium, associate professor of Psychiatry (part-time) at Harvard Medical School and a clinical forensic psychiatrist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, feels especially strongly about Yom Hashoah.

“This pandemic year we have experienced both our individual health, our collective health, our body public, our democracy, under siege. With COVID-19 virulent, there has been a rise of anti-Semitism, racism, and social injustice. For many Shoah survivors, their families, and those of us who care, the medical community has been the supply line to reason, empowerment, and hope,” Bursztajn told Psychiatric TimesTM.

Bursztajn has a personal connection to the topic—his parents were survivors of the Holocaust.

“They were members of the Lodz ghetto fekalist (sanitation workers) resistance whose average life span was 6 months. Together with the medical community, they defeated the Typhoid epidemic that threated to destroy the ghetto. Then, in the summer of 1944, they resisted the German efforts to liquidate the ghetto survivors when the Russian advance stalled.”

Bursztajn’s parents can be seen here, within months of liberation in the spring of 1945.

To watch the ceremonies and participate in the virtual march, visit https://www.motl.org.

References

1. International Match of the Living. The 2021 International March of the Living Commemoration and Ceremony​. April 8, 2021. https://www.motl.org

2. International March of the Living pays tribute to medical resistance and heroes of the Holocaust in symposium dedicated to “Medicine and Morality.” Press release. International March of the Living. April 1, 2021. Accessed April 8, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/il/news-releases/international-march-of-the-living-pays-tribute-to-medical-resistance-and-heroes-of-the-holocaust-in-symposium-dedicated-to-medicine-and-morality--849381995.html