Over this past week, students from each grade of the high school experienced ShadowLight and Southern NCSY’s Hate Ends Now presentation. The Hate Ends Now organization educates people, especially Jewish teens, about the Holocaust through the lens of a cattle car. The Hebrew Academy joins their effort to curb the continuously dropping levels of Holocaust education and awareness across the United States.
Students crossed the street to learn about the Holocaust, prejudice, and hate in a very immersive and unique way. They first saw an exact replica of what a cattle car that transported Jews to concentration camps looked like. They then participated in an immersive exhibit within the car. In the presentation, students learned that the cattle car, which they could barely fit 20 people in, was filled with around 100 Jews. Two survivors' stories were displayed on the walls, as well as a timeline of the events leading up to, during, and after the Holocaust. Students saw some examples of the horrifying posters the Nazis made, how the Nazis would determine which Jews would live and which would die, and how families got separated every day.
This invoked serious emotions, as many felt completely disturbed and disgusted with the fact that all of this happened.
“It was really interesting to see how we were in the cattle car. It was a real-life experience and it put everything into perspective” said Reeva Abraham (11th).
After the presentation was over, students exited the cattle car and marked their fingerprints on a shared poster to symbolize their mark on this world. Each individual then left a personal message of how they will stand up against antisemitism and fight for their truth.
Three sophomore girls share the notes they left. Samantha Pantoja wrote, “I’d continue telling their stories because I just feel like it's so important that we can’t forget this part of history.” Noa Sasi recalled the importance of “not being a bystander”. She committed to standing up against the injustices she may witness. “I want to tell it to other people, specifically my children so we never forget,” said Galya Rice.
As a Jewish day school, it is our goal to reach, educate, and inspire as many people as possible in order to promote a more tolerant, understanding population. This exhibit was an impactful and educational experience for all students, and an important way to continue Holocaust education and the fight against hate of all kinds.
“It’s one thing to learn about something but it means more where you’re able to actually feel it and experience it,” said Head of School, Rabbi Guttenberg. “There’s nothing like being inside a replica of a cattle car to feel the experience that our ancestors went through.”
By: Mariel Barnes and Liza Lugo (9th)