Recently Shalom Park presented a program that highlighted the impact Holocaust Survivors have on today’s youth. Through a partnership with Regis University, Shalom Park’s Director of Community Relations, Cindy Silverman, arranged for Regis students to meet with Holocaust Survivors. Not only was this an opportunity for students to hear the stories of the Survivors, but a time for students to ask questions about the Survivors’ experiences. These conversations included discussions about the need to stand up to injustice today. Each interview was videotaped and will be available for students to learn from in the future.
The students were so excited about the prospect of participating in conversations with Holocaust Survivors, examining the present day issues of what it means to be a responsible citizen so as to ensure these atrocities will not be repeated.
Frederika, a Shalom Park Elder, rescued Jews in occupied Holland during WWII along with her husband, father and brother. During the event, while honoring Frederika, Rabbi David J. Zucker stated, “It is a moral imperative to stand up to injustice. We are here to honor Frederika, her husband, her brother and her father for risking their lives to save others…It is an honor to be in her presence.”
Cantor Zachary and Trude Kutner, Holocaust Survivors, were honored for their courage to share their stories of survival with the students. Following a candle lighting ceremony, lighting six candles representing the six million Jews who perished, Cantor Kutner chanted the memorial prayer.
The Power of Truth: Holocaust Survivors Inspiring Students to Defy Injustice and Discrimination was funded by a generous grant from the Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS), and involved over 25 students from Regis University, along with their Professor, Dr. Victoria McCabe. A compilation of clips from interviews with Eric Cahn, Doris Small, Cantor Zachary and Trude Kutner were shown during the event.
Excerpts from student journals were also read aloud to demonstrate the impact of this program. Regis student Colton stated, “Meeting survivors provides light and hope in the darkness we have felt…Hearing what happened at that time from people who experienced it was a once in a lifetime gift.”
Regis student Kelsey wrote, “Moving forward, I expect to serve as I leave Regis, not for an assignment in a class but for a mission of my life.”
Regis University student Katie noted, “For me, the thing that makes the Holocaust most terrifying is that it was a human construction…Even though we may not want to admit it, we all have the power to cause and to correct immense pain and suffering. The human struggle did not end with the Holocaust and we must do more than acknowledge our moral obligation to pay respects to the millions of innocent men, women, and children who died in that time. We have to study in order to know and prevent…however the struggle does not stop there. It is our duty to treat all others with kindness and care due the human being of all races, religions, and beliefs.
The Holocaust class is a call to action and a warning NOT to be a bystander! The past is not best left in the past…we must not forget what can occur when we lack humanity. If we do, we may find ourselves standing outside the gates of another Auschwitz.”