I have always known that my grandma, Olga Grun, survived the Holocaust. As a young kid I would peek at her arm, where her identification number was etched into her arm, an inescapable reminder of what she and many others went through. There will come a day where there are no more survivors, no more tattoos to remind us, but I’ll get back to this. As I grew older I became more and more curious about her story.
I’ve traveled out of the United States four times in my life, and each of those times have been organized group trips with a school or school affiliate. With time to reflect, I’ve come to realize my experiences with Germany Close Up were the most meaningful of my four journeys.
Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed as the day of commemoration for the lives of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. All around the world, this day is commemorated on the 27th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, which fell on April 12th this year.
Before becoming involved as a fellow with Together, Restoring their Names, my initial interest in Jewish history, and in particular historical memory, was cultivated through my work over the past summer with the Diarna Geo-Museum of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Life. For 9 weeks I had the opportunity to work as an intern with the non-profit, and I was introduced to the incredibly rich and diverse world of Jewish history.
Together, Restoring their Names was featured in the Combined Jewish Philanthropies newsletter! Read what they had to say.
Holocaust education must remain in a state of constant evolution. As generations grow up and new ones are born, as distance from the Holocaust increases, it is necessary to reform the methods in which its history is taught.
If one is privileged enough to receive higher education, one may graduate without ever having to take a history class. One could climb the rungs of the American educational system without ever analyzing or questioning the history education that one has received. The ethics of teaching history is rarely examined in the classroom. Certain historical events, like the Holocaust, if taught at all, are taught with sensitivity and/or analyzed from an ethical perspective. From my experience as someone who has navigated the American public school system, American history is rarely approached with the same critical lens.
By Samantha Stewart, Berlin trip participant, Together, Restoring their Names fellow, and student at Wellesley College
History. Often times a graduation requirement for a student to check off, possibly without realizing history is not confined just to the past. Rather, we are history. We are participants, and not just now in 2017. We impact what happened in World War II and the Holocaust. Our role is remembering and investigating the past; for us it is not written in stone. It is living.
This month we took 10 students to Berlin to learn about Jewish life in Germany before, during and after the war. We applied a gender/women’s studies framework to the trip, including half a day at Ravensbruck, the only concentration camp created for women. Importantly, our students were from multiple religious and academic backgrounds, and all of them committed to sharing about the trip on social media while it took place.
This short video encompasses some of the incredibly meaningful experiences that Together, Restoring their Names fellows had on their trip to Poland.
by Chelsea Roston, Poland trip participant, Together, Restoring their Names fellow, and student at Wellesley College
I had the opportunity to take a five-day journey through more than 1,000 years of Polish and Jewish history on CJP’s “Together, Restoring Their Names” service trip to Poland. Time traveling between my Wellesley College student life and the events that took place throughout the Holocaust has inspired me to reflect.