Legacies: High School Visits is the only program of its kind in New England. A cohort of 9th-12th graders learn about the Holocaust by meeting with a survivor four times over the course of the year to talk about life before, during, and after the war. An important component of the year is the group project where all three group members conceive of and create a meaningful tribute to their time spent together.

mapJanet, a Holocaust survivor, is a gifted speaker who spends a great deal of time traveling to schools and talking with students to help them understand the importance of the past. She has a PowerPoint presentation of pictures, which is always a highlight for the students. Part of her detailed story includes a description of the path she took through Poland but she did not have a map to help students understand her travels. Miriam and Jonah created a beautiful drawing showing pictures of Janet as a child and the country borders that existed in the 1940s and today. Janet was overjoyed to include this educational piece into her presentations and believes it will further enhance students’ understanding and knowledge.

Izzy, Tovya, and IssacWhen Izzy was separated from his parents at Auschwitz, his father, before being led to his death, told his son to always remember their family and religious heritage. Isaac and Tovya felt this message was important to everyone and created a Facebook page asking people to commit to remembering their own heritage by signing a pledge. The group hopes to use the social media platform to teach others about Izzy’s story and its relevancy today.

Sarah and LilliSarah and Lilli felt such joy when they met with Judy, a Holocaust survivor, that they wanted to make sure they all remembered their positive moments together. Additionally, they wanted to help each other learn about empathy and gratitude so the trio created gratitude journals. They each wrote a heartfelt message to the other members of the group and each committed to writing down five good things that happened each day. The group believed that no matter how trying a day might seem, there are always small things that should be recollected.

If you are a high school student who would like to participate in the program for the 2016-2017 school year, please apply online. All high school students regardless of religion are invited to apply. For more information, please contact me at erast@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-1201.

Elyse Rast is the Manager of Outreach and Education for Schechter Holocaust Services. For the past 20 years Elyse has taught children ranging in ages from 3-18 and specializes in Holocaust education. Currently, Elyse runs Jewish teenage empowerment classes at Prozdor Hebrew High School and is working on her PhD in Education at Lesley University. Elyse has two kids and two cats and lives in Westwood.

Originally posted on the JF&CS blog.