“Amazing.” “Moving.” “Vital.” These were just a few of the words used to describe a recent brunch that brought together Holocaust survivors, eager to share their incredible stories, and middle school students–eager to listen. On Feb. 5, the multigenerational program at Sinai Temple introduced approximately 35 Holocaust survivors, including one who recently turned 103-years-old, to seventh grade students from Sinai Temple Religious School.
The survivors came out to the Westside area synagogue’s annual gathering to speak on a panel about their experiences during the Holocaust. Their individual accounts underscored their resiliency in the face of near-unimaginable challenges. Afterwards, the survivors went table-to-table to have more intimate, one-on-on interactions with the students in attendance. For many of the students, it was their first time engaging in person with Holocaust survivors.
Beverly Hills City Councilmember Sharona Nazarian was among the approximately 150 people who turned out for the program, which took place from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
With antisemitic incidents and hate crimes against other minority groups on the rise in cities across the country and with young people demonstrating worrisome levels of ignorance about the Holocaust–a 2020 study undertaken by the Claims Conference found nearly two-thirds of American young adults don’t know six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust–the event was an opportune moment for experiential learning, Nazarian said.
“Holocaust education is more important than ever now,” the longtime Sinai Temple congregant said. “We need to educate our youth, so that they are knowledgeable and understanding of what it means to say, ‘never again.’ We want to ensure that such atrocious acts will never occur towards another group, culture, or religion.”
Attendees included students, parents and survivors as well as Sinai Temple Religious School faculty. The Sinai Temple Religious School program organizes the brunch every year specifically for middle schoolers–while the religious school serves grades K-7, younger students don’t yet have the emotional maturity to hear firsthand accounts about the Holocaust, Nazarian told the Courier.