July 22, 2024
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HAFTR Hosts ‘Names Not Numbers©’ Finale

On June 4, HAFTR hosted an incredibly moving event—the finale of their “Names Not Numbers©” project. This special evening was devoted to preserving and sharing the personal stories of Holocaust survivors.

For the school year, HAFTR students worked tirelessly on this transformative project. They gained invaluable skills in historical research, filming and interviewing. But more importantly, they had the rare privilege of sitting face-to-face with Holocaust survivors, listening firsthand to their harrowing yet resilient accounts of one of history’s darkest chapters.

As the generation of survivors dwindles with each passing year, the students understood the profound responsibility they carried—they may well be the last generation able to forge personal connections with those who lived through the Holocaust. This sobering realization permeated the atmosphere that evening as the students spoke eloquently about how the survivors’ lessons would inspire them to boldly confront hatred and take pride in their identities.

For the 13th consecutive year, HAFTR collaborated with Lawrence Middle School on this remarkable undertaking. The evening commenced with heartfelt remarks from Rinat Balsam, HAFTR’s project coordinator and eighth grade English teacher, and Jennifer Compogna, assistant principal at Lawrence Middle School. Students from both schools shared how profoundly the project had impacted their understanding of history and humanity.

A highlight was an update from Tova Fish-Rosenberg, the founder of “Names, Not Numbers©.” She revealed that over 8,000 students across the nation have participated in this initiative since its inception, underscoring its vital role in ensuring the Holocaust is never forgotten.

The centerpiece of the evening was the premiere of a powerful documentary produced entirely by the students. Showcasing their newly acquired skills behind and in front of the camera, the students interviewed survivors, giving them a platform to recount their pre-war lives, unimaginable wartime experiences and journeys of perseverance in the aftermath. The documentary’s culmination left audiences deeply moved, as survivors imparted profound wisdom and hope for a better future.

Through their dedication, HAFTR’s students have immortalized these stories, paying tribute to the extraordinary resilience, strength and indomitable spirit of those who endured the Holocaust’s horrors. “Names, Not Numbers©” project is an eternal vow—”Never Again” must mean “Never Again, Forever.” The survivors’ lessons will forever guide us towards a more compassionate, just and peaceful world.

We applaud the students’ exceptional efforts and extend our profound gratitude to the survivors who shared their stories. Their voices will forever resonate, inspiring us all to build a society rooted in empathy and understanding.

“Names, Not Numbers©” Inc. is an interactive, multimedia Holocaust film documentary project created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg. www.namesnotnumbers.org

The “Names, Not Numbers©” program is generously supported by a prominent national foundation.

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