On April 24, dozens of Atlantans took one step after another to contribute to the Six Million Steps international campaign — led by the Israeli-American Council — to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and to bring attention to the resurgence of antisemitism in the U.S. and around the world.
The walk or run effort in the U.S. is spread out over the month of April, with each community adding their steps toward the goal of reaching six million steps in each city. Although Shaked Angel, regional director of the Greater Atlanta IAC, said small groups were walking in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta, the three main walks the IAC helped to organize took place at Chastain Park, Kennesaw State University and the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Dunwoody.
The latter location included about 40 children of b’nai mitzvah age; at Kennesaw, about 30 Hillel students gathered, according to IAC’s Sharon Freeman. The largest group, of approximately 150 people of all ages, gathered at Chastain Park.
The IAC encouraged Atlantans to log even the steps they took on their treadmills and report them on the IAC website, said Angel. Individuals could connect their Fitbit, Garmin or other fitness tracker to the digital campaign via the website. “The good thing about participating in the Six Million Steps campaign is if you are still worried about COVID, you can walk alone,” he said.
Atlanta’s #6MillionSteps campaign joined other communities with the goal of collectively reaching 60 million steps, dedicated to the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust.
The campaign kicked off on April 3 at the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles, followed by programs at Babi Yar Park in Denver, the “Rocky Steps” in Philadelphia, Shoreline Park in the San Francisco Bay Area, Tulane University in New Orleans and at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The month-long campaign was scheduled to culminate in Irvine, Calif. on April 28 and on Boston’s Freedom Trail on May 1.
In past years, IAC Atlanta has programmed around Holocaust Remembrance Day, memorialized on April 28 in Israel with a minute of silence, but the focus had been on survivors, Angel explained. With fewer Holocaust survivors remaining, the programming has adapted to promote awareness of growing anti-hate around the country.
“At a time when our nation is experiencing a deeply alarming rise in antisemitism, from attacks on synagogues and individuals to distortions of the Holocaust in the public sphere, we are coming together through #6MillionSteps to remember the Holocaust and to raise our voices against anti-Jewish hatred,” said IAC co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet.