By Maia Zasler
Many of us have heard the phrase “Never Again” in reference to the systematic killing of millions of Jews and other peoples during the Holocaust.
We have memorized the statistics, the dates: six million Jewish people, 1.5 million of those being children, three million other minority peoples, 1939-1945. Some of us tell the stories of relatives who perished, while others mourn the loss of generations completely eradicated.
I believe that all of us struggle to wrap our minds around the sheer magnitude of this chapter in history’s atrocity and horror.
As upsetting as learning about this genocide can be, it is crucial that comprehensive Holocaust education occurs.
We must ensure that students have a foundational knowledge of this tragic and inhumane chapter in world history, that they have the ability to recognize patterns, and that they have the courage to speak up about injustices.
Pertaining to the Holocaust, this means going beyond requiring the recitation of numbers or reading in a textbook. Students should have the opportunity to see themselves in the stories.
They must learn how Germany went from a democratic state to a genocidal one in less than a decade, and what happened in the more than 44,000 concentration camps and other sites of incarceration and extermination between 1933 and the end of World War II.
Students must understand the wide range of vibrant cultures and rich traditions that were present prior to and disappeared as a result of the Nazi’s attempted genocide. Teens who participated in the NCSY/JSU’s Project Never Again, led by Arielle Sherman, NCSY/JSU Richmond City Director, had the opportunity to cover said topics, and in a broader sense, truly engage with Holocaust education.
Teens Met Monthly
This past spring 15 teens met once a month to discuss different facets of the Holocaust. These meetings occurred over Zoom. One may think that having to connect over a screen for multiple hours could have proven challenging, however Sherman, through her well organized and fascinating presentations, was not only able to teach in these challenging conditions, but also to inspire.
Andrew Levin, Godwin JSU president, shared that he “enjoyed deepening his understanding of the Holocaust and having the opportunity to relay that information to others in his community.”
In order to complete the project, teens had to share their newfound knowledge and impressions through a self-made curriculum in a presentation format. The resulting projects were to be presented to fellow students, but there was also the possibility to share with a broader demographic.
The invaluable educational opportunity would not have been possible without these funds from Richmond Jewish Foundation – Ipson Holocaust Education Fund, Henry and Gertrude Kupfer Holocaust Education Fund, Brenda Zimm Oscar and Melvin Zimm Memorial Holocaust Education Fund, Herbert J and Ruth B. Rubel Holocaust Education Fund whom all have come together because they believe in this cause.
Without them, the program would not be successful nor would I have the opportunity to take part in a fantastic summer program TJJ AP, The Jerusalem Journey Ambassador Poland. Summer 2022,
I will be heading to Poland to see with my own eyes the impactful structures that destroyed my ancestors as well as spending four uplifting weeks in Israel to remind me that we survived and were able to rebuild.
For more information, contact Arielle Sherman: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 602-885-2282
To apply for the teen program: https://forms.gle/aJzfHy3Uui2tnMKt6
Editor’s note: Maia Zasler in an 11th grader at Collegiate.