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When you listen to a witness, you become a witness
– Elie Wiesel
Adopt a Survivor is a program “to preserve and perpetuate the N’shamah – the soul and spirit of shoah Survivors.” It was conceived in 1998 by Irving Roth, a Survivor from Long Island, who now directs the Holocaust Resource Center of Manhasset. The program, brought to UJC MetroWest in 2001, pairs a Survivor with one or more students. The student(s) become familiar with the Survivor’s life before, during, and after the Holocaust in order to tell that Survivor’s story in a public venue in the year 2045, a hundred years after the liberation of Auschwitz.
This project must be supervised by a teacher within an educational environment. The student’s report of the experience of a particular Survivor may be used as the focus of a report or research project for a grade or for community service credit.
Teachers will identify student candidates. In cases where candidates volunteer to adopt a Survivor, the teacher must assess the viability of the candidate (adopter.)
Minimal considerations should include:
The teacher will receive five (5) professional development hours for each student’s completed report. Teachers may offer credit or extra credit to students who engage in this project. It may be necessary for the teacher to get permission in writing from the principal or supervisor or to have her/him sign off on the contracts and consent forms. The Supervising Educator may adjust the contract and consent forms to fit the particular needs of the student and the situation.
Students must agree to meet a Survivor a minimum of four (4) times. Meetings can take place within the school, in a neutral setting such as the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany, and/or in the Survivor’s home. A minimum of two meetings should take place in the Survivor’s home and/or place of business. If possible, one of these meetings should be videotaped and copies made available to the Survivor and to the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest.
Students must agree to keep journals of their meetings. While some of these notes may be personal reflections, the teacher and Federation will receive copies of the portions of interview notes the student wishes to share. These portions should include the factual materials of the interviews that become future references for the student. The students should let the Survivor see the report before the final copy is prepared. In addition to the teacher’s copy, the final written report must be submitted to Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest with a copy for the Survivor.
Federation will archive copies of the interview notes as well as the videos and will have them available as back-up materials for the 2045 talk.
Student must sign a contract. Click here to view a sample contract.
Students must have signed parental consent. Click here to view a sample consent form. In cases where parents are expected to drive their child to the Survivor’s home or business for the interview, the parents must be made aware that this is their commitment as well as their child’s.
As an aid in commencing the interview, we recommend that the student approach each of the interviews with a set of questions that explore a different aspect of the Survivor’s life. Students should realize that four hours is hardly enough time to learn someone’s history. The prepared questions will ensure that the most important aspects of the Survivor’s story will be addressed. Should the parties decide that they want to spend more time together, the Survivor will be able to provide more detail. Minimally, the students should ask:
Click here for a list of additional suggested questions.
Alicia: My Story by Alicia Jurman Applebaum, Bantam Paperback
Night by Elie Wiesel
Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli: Dutton, 1997
We are Witnesses by Jacob Boas: Scholastic, Teenage Diaries
Escape or Die: True Stories of Young People Who Survived the Holocaust by Ina R. Friedman: Addison-Wesley