ETHS observes Holocaust Remembrance Week

During the last week of March, ETHS observed Holocaust Remembrance Week to commemorate the 11 million people who were murdered during the Holocaust. Although International Holocaust Remembrance Day was observed internationally on Jan. 27, ETHS has been observing Holocaust Remembrance Week in March for years. The tradition had to be put on hold for the last two years because of COVID-19. 

“Before COVID, there have been a wide range of events offered, which have all been organized by the Holocaust remembrance week commitee, and some of the things that have stood out to me are the Holocaust survivors who come to our school, there have been film showings [and] student presentations,” said ETHS German teacher Rachel Kern. 

Many events that took place during the last week of March were toned down this year as well. For example, speeches from Holocaust survivors were virtual for the survivors’ safety. This includes interviews between students and survivors, and the online programming was mostly done at the survivors’ request. 

“You cannot bring someone in that vulnerable state of health into a building of 4,000 people,” said Kern. 

Many experts and scholars were also invited to speak. All of these speeches and interviews are accessible on the website. According to Kern, the website has been helpful for both student and faculty education in the past. “As we were on lockdown and transitioning to hybrid, I used these resources with my classes, which I found very helpful,” Kern explained.

Usually, Holocaust Remembrance Week at ETHS has a specific theme. According to faculty sponsor Aaron Becker, this year’s theme surrounded the importance of love during a genocide. 

“[It’s about] how romantic love, family love can help people survive and keep their humanity… [and how] sending your child to live with another family or helping people escape is another form of love, [and a] form of resistance,” Becker said. 

Many of these topics were connected to the current war between Russia and Ukraine and the sacrifices that Ukrainians are making to keep themselves and their families safe. 

This is not the first time that Holocaust Remembrance week has been able to educate students and staff about other tragedies. “I found it interesting that, by attending, I have learned about other instances of genocide. I think the Holocaust in American schooling is something that is very widely taught in comparison to other instances of genocide,” says Kern. 

Unfortunately, ETHS’ Holocaust Remembrance week seems to have suffered from a lack of communication. 

“I didn’t even know it was Holocaust Remembrance week. I didn’t know there was a Holocaust Remembrance week, and I’m Jewish,” says senior Maddie Caro.  Caro feels one step in the right direction would be to improve the Holocaust curriculum at ETHS. “I feel like we learned about the Holocaust in passing for history, but then that’s it.” 

Caro suggests that ETHS draw from previous programming for events like Black History Month when planning Holocaust Remembrance Week. 

“I remember two years ago, there was [a room] where you could visit to learn about Black history, and it was like a mini exhibit, and I thought that was a good way to instruct people in a constructive, hands-on, creative manner.” Caro says that Holocaust Remembrance Week should be “an in depth showcase of the Holocaust. Something that goes over what happened [and] why it’s still important today.”

Despite the lack of communication, Holocaust Remembrance week has been a regular part of ETHS programming for years. Hopefully, in 2023, students will be better informed about the programming so that they can have the opportunity to be educated about the Holocaust.