Yom HaShoah Commemoration: Journey of Conscience

“If the world is ever to be made better, it will be made better by people who have the strength to visit Auschwitz and leave it there and take the memory of those experiences and somehow go back and make a difference.”   –Marc Pollick

Marc Pollick developed “Journey of Conscience” to travel with students, teachers, and Holocaust Survivors to Auschwitz, Majdanek, Terezin, and other concentration camps in the 1980s. The groups traveled through Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam, and the State of Israel. His goal was to enable people to become part of a journey to be remembered with awe. The trip offered rare insights into the horror and tragedy of the Holocaust and how some managed to survive.

Join us on April 8th as we commemorate Yom HaShoah with a discussion on the impact of these important trips.  Mr. Pollick will moderate a panel of people who have done this trip at different times and with different groups.

Yet, the power of the experience is the same.

You will hear from panelists Leah Hornik, Brett & Shira Spector, and David Ravanshenas about how the deep impact of their journeys shaped their lives. Brett & Shira met while volunteering for March of the Living. Leah took a gap year immediately following high school. David was so moved, he continues to take groups every year. They will share their experiences, emotions, and important moments to help us understand how we can impact change today.

Jonny Daniels joined us live from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Jonny felt a life-long passion to give back and founded an organization called From the Depths. Jonny will share the story of a Lyubuv Volchek, a “Righteous Gentile” who at 11 years old saved a young Jewish girl who escaped into the forest.  Jonny will hold a candle lighting ceremony and you are welcome to light a candle of your own in memory of the 6 million Jews and many others who perished during the Holocaust.

The event will conclude with the Mourners Kaddish by Rabbi Rick Sherwin

About Our Panel

Moderator: Marc Pollick

Marc has an extensive career in academic Holocaust Studies, working with 1986 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Elie Wiesel. He was Founding Executive Director of the Zachor Institute for Holocaust Studies and founded The Elie Wiesel Institute for Humanitarian Studies. Marc is a University Scholar of Boston University.  In 1977, he was employed as a lecturer at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and has taught Holocaust courses at the high school and university levels.

In 1997, Marc founded The Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit that encourages and facilitates charitable giving by pro athletes, celebrities, existing nonprofits and all who truly desire to give back. He is an internationally recognized speaker, writer, and consultant on philanthropy and charitable giving, who has guided the philanthropic efforts of an impressive clientele.


Panelist Leah Hornik

Leah Hornik is a current student at Rollins College. She embarked on a gap year after graduating high school, where she moved to Israel for nine months. She studied at Hebrew University and volunteered with Magen David Adom, the Israeli ambulances. She had the opportunity to travel to Poland and learn about the atrocities that occurred there first hand. Additionally, Leah is a member of the Bonner Leaders program at Rollins, where she volunteers at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center. She is currently majoring in Religious Studies with a Minor in Political Science.

“The ice-cold weather was a mirror image of the emotions I felt; this was an experience I will never forget and hope to continue to educate others about. We must Never Forget.” –– Leah Hornik

Panelists Brett & Shira Spector

Originally from Miami, Shira has spent the last 10 years in Orlando with her husband Brett and their two sons, Mitchell and Andrew.  While the move to Orlando was a professional one, she has now found a community that she and her family can call home.  Shira is currently the Chief Data & Analytics Officer for Partners Federal Credit Union.  When she is not busy in her professional life, she enjoys cooking, traveling, curling up with a good book, hanging out with her boys, or jumping on her Peloton.

“It was about simultaneously seeing the horrors yet feeling the joy of being alive.  The experience instilled in me that obligation to never forget what happened and to tell the story of what can happen when we let hate and fear take over our ability to love and accept others for who they are.” Shira Spector

Brett Spector is a Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships with Iron Mountain and has been with them for the last six years. Currently, he sits on the boards of directors at the Rosen JCC in SW Orlando and Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland. Outside of work he enjoys spending time with his family, going on vacation, and both him and his wife Shira love riding and running on their Peletons.

“The March Of The Living was incredible to see all these people of all ages from all different countries come together as one and march from Auschwitz to Birkenau is a feeling that one never forgets both from remembering the Holocaust, but also continuing to educate people about the Holocaust, which is the sole purpose of this trip to never forget.” — Brett Spector

Panelist David Ravanshenas

David grew up in Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. He works in Real Estate Development focusing primarily on offices and apartments. He spends his free time with family, playing sports, and donating his time to philanthropic causes. Taking young adults to March of the Living has been a recent passion project.

“Jews from different backgrounds, cultures, and upbringings build lifetime friendships and bonds as they navigate and find meaning in the efficiency and scale of the German attempt to eliminate our people.” David Ravanshenas


Live From the Warsaw Ghetto: Jonny Daniels of From the Depths

“My foundation, From The Depths, took it on ourselves as millennials, as young people involved in Holocaust memorial, to do what we can to assist and give help to the Righteous Among the Nations.”  The organization will also send packages to Muslim Righteous Among the Nations in Albania – the only country to have been under Nazi occupation and which had more Jews after World War II than before.

“We’re going from Righteous to Righteous every single day, with food, with medicine if they need, with whatever they need, to look after them, to make sure that they don’t have to leave their homes and they can stay safe. We are trying our hardest to protect those who protected us just 75 years ago.”

Thank you to our supporters:

Culture Builds Florida image in predominantly green and pink

Orlando at Play com logo with an image of the skyline of Orlando in red

United Arts of Central Florida logo

Arts & Cultural Affairs logo with the Orang eCounty Government Florida logo beneath