While traveling on a bus back from Auschwitz, Merinda Davis, a middle school teacher from Orem, asked her new Polish friend, Adam, how to pronounce the city they just left.
“It’s the city right next to Auschwitz," Davis said. "It’s where the largest concentration camp and murder site during WWII [was]. We’re just coming back from the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz; the commemoration ceremony."
The ceremony was attended by almost 3,000 people, including living survivors who shared, not the horrific details of their experience, but the importance of peace and tolerance.
Davis told me one of the survivors, a rabbi, moved her at the ceremony when he performed a kaddish - a Jewish hymn of praises to God.
“They had a large tent that covered the famous watch tower in front of Birkenau," Davis said. "We were all inside of this tent. When the rabbi, who is a survivor, was performing a kaddish, standing there in front of that tower that symbolized death for over a million people, I think was really powerful for me.”
The night before the ceremony, Davis attended a reception and spoke personally with the survivors.