Photo Credit: YeshivaUniversity YouTube screenshot / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qp4MhfC9lg
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld being interviewed by ‘Names, Not Numbers’ students

(JNi.media) Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB) at 2540 Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights, Manhattan, is now offering the course “Names, Not Numbers” as a 12th grade elective, Ari Hagler reported for MTA News. Participants will interview Holocaust survivors and later compile their stories into a documentary film. The program had its first meeting a week ago Thursday, with documentary filmmaker Michael Puro.

Puro, whose filmography consists mainly of editing work on a variety of documentary films, both short and full length, is the director of the 2010 film “Names, Not Numbers,” which featured 23 students from three Jewish day schools who came together to record oral histories of Holocaust Survivors.

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Tova Fish-Rosenberg created the program back in 2004, transforming traditional history lessons into a lively, interactive, nontraditional experience that involves individuals who have actually lived through the history being taught. Other Jewish schools that have incorporated the program include Yeshiva University High School for Girls, ESW in Houston, Jewish Day School of the Leigh Valley in Allentown, Pa, and the Rambam yeshiva in Baltimore.

“After the training and research, the students gain first hand knowledge through being paired with and given the opportunity to interview and videotape Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans who liberated camps, survivors who later immigrated to pre-1948 Israel, and second generation, who are now living in the same communities as the students,” states the website. “Oral histories of this era depict either survivors or veterans. The students are preserving on videotape and DVD, a small segment of the history of World War II and its aftermath with the connections to Israel. At the same time the participants form intergenerational friendships with their interview subjects.”

Sample interview questions include (although the website cautions that not all of these will be appropriate for everyone):

Describe what your life was like growing up before the war.

Can you tell us what the Jewish community was like?

Did you play a sport?

What did you do for fun with your friends?

How old were you when you first heard the name Hitler?

How did things change when the Germans invaded?

What was it like when Hitler came to power?

Did you have non – Jewish friends before the Holocaust and how did they react to the changes?

Describe what it was like to leave your home with almost no possessions.

What was it like to be in hiding?

What was daily life like in the ghetto /concentration camp?

Do you have a tattooed number? How did you feel when you lost your identity and became a number?

What kind of activities did you do there?

What interesting /moving story would you like to share with us?

How / why did you join the resistance / partisans?

Can you describe liberation day?

What happened to you after you were liberated?

Did other members of your family survive?

How did you come to Israel or America?

Do you have any mementos/ pictures of your family to show us?

Did the Holocaust affect your belief in Hashem?

Finally, the last two questions for the survivors and liberators are important to ask, according to the website:

In what ways does the Holocaust affect your life today?

What kind of message would you like to pass on to young people and to future generations?

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