Holocaust Awareness Program for the Class of 2019


Ms. Tomissini

Holocaust survivors at the Pine Crest Fort Lauderdale campus.

Every year at Pine Crest on the Fort Lauderdale campus, there is a Holocaust Awareness Program, in which the freshmen share the opportunity to learn more about what occurred in World War II. The students are very fortunate that Pine Crest offers this program, which includes watching the movie Schindler’s List and talking to Holocaust survivors in small groups. The Symposium was arranged and coordinated for the class of 2019 by Hedy Rosenbaum and the Institute for Civic Involvement.

On Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016, the freshman class of 2019 watched Schindler’s List in Stacy Auditorium. Schindler’s List is a movie starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, and other talented actors. This Academy Award winning movie by Steven Spielberg depicts the story of how Oskar Schindler arrived in Krakow, Poland, joined the Nazi party, and opened a business factory illegally filled with Jewish employees. He soon realized that in doing this, he was saving innocent lives. Oskar Schindler’s decision to employ Jews and eventually save them showed immense bravery and courage since he could have been punished by the Nazis if he was caught, and was a great example of a non-Jewish war hero. The opportunity to watch this movie allowed the freshmen to hear about the Holocaust from a non-Jewish perspective before they engaged in group conversation with survivors. 

On Thursday, March 3rd, 2016, the students had an unforgettable talk with survivors from the Holocaust. The students were divided into groups of ten and each group spoke with one survivor. They learned about what it was like to live during such an unforgettable, inhumane time period, and what people sacrificed. In total, about twenty survivors visited the school, and Pine Crest is very grateful that this group of survivors took time to come and discuss what happened during the Holocaust, even though it may have been difficult for them to relive the experience. Freshman Jabari Owens shared his thoughts about this experience by saying, “It was a truly moving experience. The survivors told us about the horrible cruelties they lived through, and yet they are able to smile today. I feel they are truly amazing people to find happiness after so much oppression.” Many of the survivors spent time in the concentration camps, lost family and friends, and still get frightened from the horrors that occurred. Their stories are truly remarkable.

After the group sessions with the survivors, Amanda Rothschild, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, talked about the United States’ response to mass executions. The students found her words inspiring and learned more about her research.      

This experience was extremely moving.  Freshman Shayne Pollock expressed her opinion about the Holocaust Awareness Symposium and stated, “The movie shed light on the injustice Jews were treated with and their near-death experiences. The survivors’ stories gave a more vivid view of the many murders that occurred, and Amanda Rothschild provided a very detailed and thoroughly researched view that empowered every individual in the audience by recognizing the fact we all can make a difference.”