Apr 23, 2007 — Joyce Tessel worried about the relevance of her class project. The 18-year-old senior at Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) “didn’t understand why talking to Holocaust survivors” and others who were connected to World War II, could be important to her young life. “But I was so wrong,” she said.
The result is Names, Not Numbers©, an interactive, multimedia intergenerational Holocaust oral history project produced by the seniors at YUHSG and The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy – Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB) to pass on the memories, stories, and lessons of that unprecedented tragic time in world history.
Names, Not Numbers was created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg. The project combines research through Web Quests, video interviewing techniques, documentary film tools, writing and editing. Web Quest is a customized Web site that helped direct students to information about the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Students interviewed survivors as well as American war veterans who were involved in the liberation of concentration camps. They were given videography instruction by Eric Spaar, director of the film, as well as guidance on conducting interviews from a journalist and an oral historian. Students gained first-hand knowledge of World War II and the Holocaust by being paired with survivors and veterans who reside in their respective communities and filming their interviews.
The students presented the video, a documentary film, and a lecture by Dr. Moshe Avital, a Holocaust survivor and educator, at YUHSG on Sunday, April 15 – Yom Hashoah-Holocaust Remembrance Day. It will be presented again by YUHSB at 6:30 pm on Sunday, April 29 at 2540 Amsterdam Avenue on the Wilf Campus of Yeshiva University in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The keynote speaker, Sol Goldstein, is one of the last surviving members of his Army company which liberated Buchenwald.
“For many young people, the events of World War II and the Holocaust are remote and don’t resonate on a human or existential level,” said Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, head of school of YUHSB. “This experience transformed lessons in history into a lively program that personalizes the events through the individuals who lived through them.”
Mrs. Rochelle Brand, YUHSG head of school, stressed that Names, Not Numbers brought history to life for her students. “This project has deepened their understanding of the Holocaust. Having the opportunity to interview survivors helps ensure that our students will continue to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations.”