On April 29, aboard a bus leaving the Nazi death camp at Majdanek, Marlboro teen Emily Dubin composed a poem intended to honor victims of the Holocaust and to freeze her feelings at that moment so they will never be forgotten.
A few days later she read it, for the first time, to her bus mates on a BBYO-organized youth group activity — part of the March of the Living, an annual youth pilgrimage to Poland and Israel commemorating the Holocaust and celebrating the Jewish state.
The verse is viewable in a multimedia version on YouTube and has been circulated widely on Facebook and Twitter, and BBYO’s communications office in Washington, DC, is promoting it as a work filled with “raw emotion.”
Emily, 18, is a senior at Marlboro High School, a congregant at Marlboro Jewish Center, and a member of BBYO’s Greater Jersey Hudson River Region. She wrote the poem halfway through the two-week March of the Living, which includes an official procession from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom Hashoa, Holocaust Remembrance Day. BBYO’s U.S. delegation of more than 130 teens joining thousands of participants from countries around the world included four from Monmouth County, Emily and fellow Marlboro residents Leona Kogan, Nicole Finkelstein, and Julia Cohen.
Emily said that a memorable aspect of the March was the participation of Trudy Album, an 85-year-old survivor, originally from a small town in Slovakia, and later a concentration camp prisoner who was liberated from Auschwitz. Album, who now lives in Suffern, NY, has been on previous marches to serve as a guide and a living witness of the Shoa.
The day after the official march, the BBYO group visited Majdanek, and Emily penned her poem, calling it “Butterflies in Majdanek.”
The visit to this death camp was particularly jarring for her. “Everything is so well preserved that it can be up and running in 48 hours,” she told NJJN in a phone interview. “This was the hardest day, but it was also the day where we all came together, holding each other together before anyone had a chance to break.
“Amid all the pain, there was beauty. In all the darkness, there will always be light — because we survived.”
Poetry is not a new endeavor for Emily. “I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember,” she said, noting that she’ll enter Temple University in Philadelphia next fall, where she expects to major in media studies and production.