Posted by Elyse Rast
Legacies: High School Visits is the only program of its kind in New England. A cohort of 9th-12th graders learn about the Holocaust by meeting with a survivor three times over the course of the year and creating a meaningful project together.
Lisa and Nicole had the privilege of meeting with Fred, who was very appreciative of this opportunity and felt the students became his “adopted granddaughters.” Fred speaks about his life at schools to large numbers of students and appreciated how different the Legacies: High School Visits experience was for him. At a school, he hopes he makes an impact and his story connects with someone, but after meeting with Lisa and Nicole three times, he shared that he felt confident he made a difference and that they will remember him and his story.
During her comments at graduation, Lisa said, “Getting involved, having a voice, giving a voice to other people, embracing community, and always remembering our past” are takeaways she will never forget.
Lisa and Nicole wrote a poem about their meetings with Fred for their graduation project. Fred, an artist, felt it was very significant that the girls honored him by writing a poem. He shared that, even though this was an art form that he was not familiar with, he felt it was very appropriate and that the students may have told his story better than he does!
The Art of Remembrance
Forget. Don’t look back. Don’t remember.
Only three years old. Hardly a survivor, they said.
With only a brother to protect him, forced to grow up too fast.
A childhood void of a true home, an education, and a family.
A childhood plagued by uncertainty, change, and loss
Easier to repress the memories than to feel the pain.
Outsiders denied it because they didn’t understand.
Insiders denied it because they did.
Surrounded by intolerance and ignorance because
“Nobody in the world gave a damn.”
Remember. Look back. Don’t forget.
With knowledge comes the desire to change, to protest, to teach.
We cannot ignore the past. We must remember in order to prevent.
We must recognize that child survivors are real survivors.
Different stories can share the same pain.
Art is remembrance, an expression of suffering, and an expression of hope.
Art reflects the truth. Art has a voice.
It allows us to speak out and get involved.
We must resolve to make a difference, to fight injustice, and
“Make the world better than the one that was inherited.”
“We are responsible for our own future.”
If you are a high school student who would like to participate in the program for the 2015-2016 school year, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-693-1201. Applications are due by October 12, 2015.
JF&CS Schechter Holocaust Services is made possible by the generous support of the Claims Conference and the Dorot Foundation.
Elyse Rast is the Manager of Outreach and Education for Schechter Holocaust Services. For the past 20 years Elyse has taught children ranging in ages from 3-18 and specializes in Holocaust education. Currently, Elyse runs Jewish teenage empowerment classes at Prozdor Hebrew High School and is working on her PhD in Education at Lesley University. Elyse has two kids and two cats and lives in Westwood.