On Election Day, most kids were off of school, but some students were commemorating a different day, Kristallnacht.
Students from Katz Yeshiva High School and the Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt High School at Donna Klein Jewish Academy spent some of the day at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County where they explored an exhibit: “SHOAH: How Was It Humanly Possible – Telling the Story of the Holocaust: 1933-1945.”
The exhibit has only been displayed three times in the United States. It opened at the United Nations and was displayed in Miami at the Holocaust Memorial. The exhibit, which features a series of panels that depict the day-to-day life of Jews before, during and after the Holocaust was created by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel.
“We were delighted to be able to host the exhibit,” said Stuart Silver, Esq., Jewish Community Relations Council Director, who helped bring the exhibit to the West Boca campus. “It’s very important people not only see the exhibit but remember the Holocaust.”
The exhibit was open for several events over a week span. It was visited by students and open to the public.
The Director of Education for the American Society for Yad Vashem Marlene Yahalom said the exhibit was created to show the Jewish experience of World War II.
She said a timeline above each panel indicates periods of time before, during and after the war. The panels show photos, artifacts and quotes of people’s experiences.
Another theme incorporated into the exhibit is the human aspect. She said the panels show people as rescuers, victims, perpetrators and bystanders. It also shows that the categories aren’t static and how people could move from one to another like a bystander to a rescuer.
The messages she said the exhibit evokes include showing what happened to the Jews specifically during WWII, to challenge Holocaust deniers and to keep the testimonies of survivors alive as they die. She said all accounts used in the exhibit have been authenticated.
“The future of the Holocaust is based on these kids,” said Leon Weissberg, who was lecturing to students as they discussed the panels. “The value of the exhibit is tremendous.”
The students were assigned a specific panel to look at before they viewed the entire exhibit. Junior Ashley Klein said it allowed her to take a deeper look into what the panel showed.
She said she was assigned to look at a photo of life in a ghetto. She said in the picture she noticed something odd, a person smiling.
Reading the panel, she said she learned that people did activities underground and even though they were terrified they were able to hide it sometimes.
Senior Abraham Waserstein said his panel depicted a Soviet solider crying. He said the shock on his face and the extent the soldiers didn’t know what was going on brought back memories of his grandparents, who are Holocaust survivors. He said his grandmother always struggled with how the world turned its back on what was going on.
“It’s really powerful,” he said of the exhibit.