May 18, 2024
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RPRY Screens ‘Names, Not Numbers©’

Hundreds of people poured into Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva on Thursday night to view the documentary of the culmination of the eighth grade’s year-long Holocaust study program “Names, Not Numbers©.” This is the fourth year RPRY has participated in “Names, Not Numbers©,” created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg. Over the course of the year, students created a documentary recording the oral histories of nine Holocaust survivors: Margit Buchhalter Feldman, Agnes Friedman, Ruth Heilbron Gottlieb, Dr. G. Eugene Gottlieb, Inge Katzenstein, and Sol Lurie.

Simultaneously, a documentary of this process was created by filmmaker Adam Chinoy, with excerpts from the students’ documentary, which was screened at the program’s final event. The students researched their survivors’ stories, and learned filmmaking and interview techniques working with journalist Jeanette Friedman and filmmaker Chinoy.

“‘Names, Not Numbers©’was the most amazing thing I have ever done,” eighth grader Neshama Rudnitzky shared. “It was an amazing privilege getting to sit down next to a survivor, talk to her and hear her story first hand…The research process was very meaningful and interesting to me on a personal level.” Student Adina Warschawsky spoke about learning from Friedman about emunah through great difficulty: “There was no shortage of physical and spiritual resistance throughout Europe against the Holocaust, and in the end we prevailed, proving to the world that a little faith goes a long way in times of darkness. I have read about the faith that our people showed, and I have seen movies depicting that faith. But now I have met someone who herself used faith to survive; faith that God would save her, faith in our religion, faith that she would live to tell her story. Without faith, without emunah, we would not have survived.”

Student Yosef Shmuel touched on the mesorah, saying “How do we know the Torah is true? Because our parents told us and their parents told them, all the way back to Moshe on Har Sinai. We are a part of a mesorah, a tradition, and now we have an obligation to teach our children..Mrs. Feldman told me her story. I will continue the chain and tell it to my children. I never met Moshe Rabbeinu, and my children may never have the privilege of meeting a Holocaust survivor like I did. But they will have the mesorah to pass on to their children as well because I am a witness to the story.”

Students appreciated learning about filming and editing, feeling a great sense of ownership over the project. The documentaries are archived at the national library of Israel in Jerusalem, at Yad Vashem and at the YU Gottesman Library.

“I know that we all share these emotions—pride and gratitude—when we think of the survivors who have given us a legacy to live up to…We all have the responsibility and privilege to make sure the world never forgets,” Head of School Rabbi Daniel Loew shared. The evening concluded with the singing of Ani Maamin.

RPRY gratefully thanks the Holocaust survivors who shared their stories so generously, “Names, Not Numbers,©” and Tova Fish-Rosenberg and The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. Thank you to supporters: Susan and Moshe Wiesel and family, Penny and Michael Kaplan and family, Josh and Leslie Ostrin and Tova and Jeremy Renna.

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