This past Wednesday, our seventh graders visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage to experience the special exhibit entitled “Auschwitz: Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.” From the moment they disembarked from the bus, it was quite clear that it would be one that would not easily be forgotten. Parked in front of the museum was an authentic cattle car and railroad track that was used during the Holocaust. Rabbi May, Rabbi Kasirer, and Rabbi Deutscher, in tandem with expert guides, explained the significance of it and then proceeded inside where they had an in-depth explanation of the events that led up to the Holocaust. By using hundreds of artifacts, the boys were able to see and feel what Jewish life was like before, during, and after the war. Boys were taken aback by seeing a shofar and t’filin that were smuggled into and used in Auschwitz.
Seeing the actual bunk beds from the barracks in Auschwitz, a cauldron from the kitchen where the (meager) daily portions were made, and ceiling-to-floor lifelike paintings gave them a unique perspective that cannot be gleaned from books or documentaries.
Before leaving, they had a breakout session discussing what they had seen and learned. As one young man put it succinctly, “I learned that, no matter what happens, Hashem is always with us and the Jewish nation will always survive.”