During the Fall semester, a group of Weiss-Livnat students were offered a great opportunity: planning a Yom HaShoah event for the Walworth Barbour American International School’s middle school students. Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is marked here in Israel with a national 2-minute siren at 10 am, as well as a day of ceremonies and speakers. With the guidance of experienced Holocaust educator, Beth Dotan, and Weiss-Livnat staff members, students met multiple times throughout the Fall and Spring semesters to create a meaningful and educational experience for WBAIS students. Students also met with the WBAIS staff at their campus in Even Yehuda for a brainstorming and coordinating session.
On the morning of Thursday, May 5, Yom HaShoah, Weiss-Livnat students met at the school. They observed the siren together with the high school students and faculty. Student Esther Selman remarked how this memorial was similar to that of her home country, England. “The siren is similar to what we have in England for Remembrance Sunday at 11am on November 11th, when we stop for a two-minute silence, marked by the chimes of Big Ben. For me the siren was a respectful way to unify everyone in remembrance.” They then proceeded to the auditorium with high school students to hear from Holocaust survivor, Tsewi Herschel. He told his story of being a hidden child in Holland during the war to a full audience. He emotionally remembered his parents, who were both murdered in Auschwitz, and told of his journey post-war from hiding to adulthood, and eventually to Israel. High school students got to ask him about his family, his relationship with Holland today, and how he thought the Holocaust had shaped his life. Herschel ended with an inspiring message for all: hate no one, and try to do good for all.
Then, WBAIS middle school students split up into small groups of 10-15, and each group met in classrooms to hear from a survivor. They began the session with an hour long discussion workshop led by Weiss-Livnat students on preventing bigotry and being accepting of all, regardless of race, religion, gender or national origin. Weiss-Livnat student, Diana Schuemann reflected on how impressed she was with the students in the class. “They asked really emphatic and reflective questions. They immediately connected the exercise to daily life situations.” After a short break, students got to hear from a Holocaust survivor about their personal experiences of persecution and survival. Then, in the small group atmosphere, students and survivors got to engage in conversation together. It was a unique and important opportunity not just for the WBAIS students, but Weiss-Livnat students as well. “This day showed me again the importance of teaching about the Holocaust and genocides worldwide in order to make the world a better place.” said Schuemann.
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