Coinciding with Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27-28, the #6MillionSteps campaign is now seeing huge participation, with organizers aiming to increase Holocaust awareness and draw attention to rising anti-Semitism in America.
A project of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), the campaign features twelve large-scale walk-runs that are scheduled around the United States, and are open to all. Many community groups, including several public schools, have joined the initiative this year, with non-Jewish young children also coming in as “allies”.
“Americans don’t know enough about the Holocaust,” says IAC’s director of activism, Karen Bar-Or. “There’s a younger generation that is completely unaware of what happened. We’re trying to find a positive way to bring people out and engage with a subject that is so painful.” Bar-Or says the campaign initially began as an attempt to mark Yom Hashoah in a way that was safe during the coronavirus pandemic. “We were trying to think of meaningful ways that people could engage and do something wherever they are,” she explains. “Once we saw the success last year, we realized that we wanted to continue.”
As it stands, during the walk-run, participants can connect their Fitbit, Garmin or other types of fitness trackers to the campaign step website or manually count steps while walking or running, and then log them later.
Apart from the several walks that have been scheduled, to address the threat of ongoing anti-Semitism, #6MillionSteps will offer a class on removing anti-Semitic content and Holocaust denial from the Internet. The IAC is also providing online courses for students and educators, including “The Shoah Diaries,” a creative writing class for elementary- and middle-school students, as well as a critical study of word choice and responsibility for high-schoolers called “Voices from the Holocaust II.”