YU High Schools Commemorate Yom HaShoah

The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA)

On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, MTA hosted a meaningful Yom HaShoah program, which began with opening remarks from Rabbi Joshua Kahn, head of school, followed by Nadav Heller, a senior, who talked about his experience interviewing a Holocaust survivor as part of MTA’s “Names, Not Numbers” program.

The introduction closed with Gavriel Iskhakbayev, another senior, lighting a candle in memory of the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust.

The talmidim [students] were then privileged to hear from legendary storyteller Rabbi Hanoch Teller. Rabbi Teller shared many inspiring Holocaust stories, highlighting the bravery, perseverance, and determination of those who endured the atrocities of the concentration camps, and he encouraged the talmidim to carry on their legacy.

The program concluded with the talmidim lighting 300 candles provided by Our 6 Million, an organization whose mission is to instill a family tradition to remember those who perished during the Holocaust. Each candle represented one of the 6 million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust and included a label with the person’s name and information about who they were and what they did prior to the Holocaust as well as their dates of birth and death. A QR code that can be scanned to access more information. The talmidim took the time to read about each person before lighting their candles to keep their memories alive.

The Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central)

Central commemorated Yom HaShoah with meaningful programming throughout the day. In the morning, a siren rang and names of child victims were read. Seniors lined the hallways holding lit candles and led the other students to the cafeteria where the choir sang. Once gathered, Rachel Musheyev, a senior, remarked on her experience interviewing a survivor for “Names, Not Numbers.” Rina Shamilov, a junior, read a poem she wrote for Yom HaShoah. Six yahrzeit candles were lit, representing the 6 million Jews who were killed; each candle held a special meaning to the person who lit it.

The highlight of the program was a presentation by Mrs. Shirley Gottesman, a Holocaust survivor, and the great-great-aunt of senior Etty Weschler. She spoke about her experience in Kanada II in Auschwitz. Her story was truly meaningful and inspirational. The ceremony concluded with the entire school singing Hatikvah and Ani Ma’amin. Afternoon programming included learning about modern-day anti-Semitism and a museum program about the history of the Holocaust.

An integral part of the Yom HaShoah commemoration was Central’s hosting of its 13th “Names, Not Numbers” evening, marking the culmination of a year-long project undertaken by over 20 members of the senior class. Under the direction of program creator Mrs. Tova Fish-Rosenberg and faculty coordinator Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz, they worked the entire year on making a film of interviews done with several Holocaust survivors.

To create the film, the seniors learned interviewing skills from a journalist and filming and editing from a filmmaker. The end result was a beautifully done, high-quality documentary that encompassed the highly diverse stories of the Holocaust survivors, screened to an audience of parents, faculty and friends. The evening opened with remarks from Mrs. CB Neugroschl, head of school, followed by “Reflections” from Etty Weschler. “The film came out so well,” said senior Yael Berger. “It was an inspirational project to work on, and the product was incredible.”

Dov Landau (center) and Tova Rosenberg (far right) with the Names, Not Numbers interview team