Earlier this month, Grade 8 students traveled to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, a space “dedicated to challenging visitors to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts” and to examine racism and prejudice around the world.
The day before their trip, speaker and Holocaust survivor Rose Schindler shared her experiences of living in the concentration camp Auschwitz as a teenager and losing her family to genocide. At the time she was taken to Auschwitz, she was just 14 years old—roughly the same age as a Grade 8 student.
These were the culmination of Grade 8’s study of the Holocaust. A collaboration between the Middle School English and history departments, students begin by reading Elie Wiesel’s “Night” in English class, then learn about the rise of the Third Reich in history class.
Visiting the Museum of Tolerance offers additional insight into the history of not only the Holocaust but other atrocities that have been committed in the name of prejudice and racism around the world. Hearing a Holocaust survivor tell firsthand accounts of those atrocities is especially impactful.
“Rose brings the Holocaust to life for our students,” said history teacher and Grade 8 Dean Jeremy Howard. “I find tremendous value in teaching and learning about the Holocaust. It shows the worst and the best of humanity.”
Students understand the importance, as well. They took lasting lessons with them from their unit in school, their visit to the museum, and the accounts of Rose Schindler.
Sophie White, Class of 2023, said:
“The [Museum of Tolerance] made me see the world in a way that I usually only see in the news and then forget about. When my group watched a 5-minute video about genocides all around the world, it made me realize how big my bubble was. After, we walked to a wall called ‘Our Responsibility.’ It had words that I use every day, but it made me think of all that I can do to help those who suffer from oppression. Hope, Organize, Love, and Lead. I learned that I can make a small but meaningful difference in the world.”
Rebecca Pollack, Class of 2023, said:
“After learning more about the horrible experiences that Elie and his fellow Jews went through, seeing how it happened at the [Museum of Tolerance] made me realize more just how horrible it really was. Basically all the Jews in Europe at that time had their lives uprooted. I’m Jewish myself, and I’m very lucky to be born in America at this time. If I had been born in the 1940s in Europe, I would not be alive to tell my story. After hearing Rose speak, it made me realize just how strong she and all the other survivors are to be able to live through the nightmarish concentration camps.”
Watch Rose Schindler’s talk with students on Jan. 9.