by Moshe Bochner (’13)
On Wednesday night, the annual Names, Not Numbers (NNN) dinner took place in Yeshiva University’s Belfer Hall. The event was a culmination of the work done by students, teachers, videographers, and most importantly, the Holocaust survivors who were interviewed by the students.
In September, seniors in the NNN elective began an oral history project on the Holocaust. Students who participated in this program were privileged to take part in several unique educational experiences, such as visiting The Jewish Heritage Museum in downtown Manhattan and learning about the ethical will from the museum’s Dr. Paul Rudansky; they had a discussion about interviewing techniques with journalist Jacqueline Rivkin, lessons on videography and film-making from Mauricio Arenas and several lessons on the historical context of the Holocaust from historian and former MTA history instructor, Dr. Geoffrey Cahn. Just recently, they heard a lecture about the importance of passing on the stories of Holocaust survivors from noted Holocaust scholar Dr. Michael Berenbaum.
In February, over thirty seniors were privileged to interview eight Holocaust survivors. These interviews, in which the survivors told the stories of how they escaped Nazi occupied Europe and lived to see a world in which they could be proud to openly practice Judaism, were filmed professionally. The interviews were then edited by the students for conciseness.
On Wednesday, the final video documentary of the students’ experience in interviewing the survivors, as well as selected clips from the interviews, was screened for the survivors, students, faculty, and families. In addition to the emotional and inspirational film, the 180 guests heard divrei Torah and speeches from Rabbi Taubes, program founder Mrs. Tova Fish-Rosenberg, and program coordinator Dr. Cahn, as well as word of reflection from Senior Moshe Bochner, who had interviewed two of his grandparents.
At the end, the survivors were presented with the videos of their interviews and took pictures with their interviewees. The night was one filled with emotion, inspiration, and displays of strength and Jewish pride. Thank you to all those who participated in this program and to those who attended the dinner. A special thanks to Mrs. Fish- Rosenberg, Dr. Cahn, Mrs. Rosenstock, and Mrs. Weschler for organizing the event.