Together, Restoring Their Names
A campus initiative based on Holocaust memory service-learning
Started in 2015, the Together, Restoring Their Names initiative implements Holocaust memory service-learning in the Boston area. Student fellows work to improve the quality of Holocaust education on campus, as well as serve the local survivor community. Although the initiative is part of CJP’s IACT campus initiative for Birthright Israel alumni, participation is open to students of any, or no, religious background. At the core of each fellow’s experience is a personal project they undertake for the initiative, based on the programmatic goals below.
For the 2017-18 academic year, fellows will explore the theme, “Who Will Write Our History?” In addition to being the title of a book and upcoming film about the Warsaw Ghetto’s “Oneg Shabbat” archive, this theme connects to the role of Kehilah, or community, in facing adversity, as well as the role of Chesed, or compassion, in making the world a better place. At the core of the secret “Oneg Shabbat” project was the belief that all people’s stories are worth recording, regardless of their station in life. This belief informs the mission of Together, Restoring Their Names, as does the notion that we are all responsible for each other.
Our core programmatic areas:
With fellows at colleges and universities across the greater Boston area, such as Wellesley College, Boston University, and Brandeis University, the initiative organizes programs about the Shoah year-round. This year’s content will include survivor talks on campus; student presentations about the Holocaust; increased use of social-media to commemorate victims, and screenings of the film, “Who Will Write Our History?” Some fellows will bring the initiative “off campus” for the first time, working to educate – for instance – high school students or immigrants preparing for US citizenship. We will also expand our Shoah learning “program menu” for campuses, which currently has more than three-dozen suggestions.
Fellows will volunteer with the local survivor community this year, including providing transportation, organizing local events, and attending to survivors’ general needs. During the spring, fellows will visit Washington, DC. to lobby for increased support of survivors and more robust Shoah education around the country. The DC mission will also provide fellows with background to organize timely Holocaust Remembrance Day activities, including by making use of new content from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Select fellows will be invited to participate in a serving-learning trip to Europe. Since its creation in 2015, fellows have visited Poland for a trip focused on active memory, and Germany for a trip focused on women in the Shoah. Some of this year’s fellows will visit the Netherlands in January to learn about Jewish life in that country before, during and after the war. With an emphasis on the stories of Hitler’s youngest victims, including Anne Frank, fellows will share their findings in live-time on social media, as well as back on campus.
To maximize our impact, the initiative seeks to partner with and learn from Shoah-related organizations around the world. These include Yad Vashem, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Germany Close-Up, and From the Depths.
For more information or to get involved with Together, Restoring their Names, contact Elan Kawesch at Elan@IsraelCampusRoundtable.org