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Local students mark Holocaust Remembrance with virtual tour of Auschwitz

WPBF West Palm Beach logo WPBF West Palm Beach 4/8/2021
a traffic light sitting on the side of a road: auschwitz © me auschwitz

It was a different sort of lesson for students Wednesday at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy.

The eighth-graders were in their chairs in their Boca Raton classroom, but they were also on a tour in Poland.

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They were at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“I think no one is ever really ready to see what’s happened,” said Rachel Sareli, a student at the school. “But they need to.”

This is Holocaust Remembrance week, a notoriously difficult lesson to teach.

“As educators, we still cannot find words to describe it,” said Sammy Chukran-Lontok, the director of Hebrew and Israeli Education at the school. “I always find myself with no words.”

So rather than just words, the school used a tour guide in Poland to show students photos and videos of the camp and take them on a virtual walk through one of history’s most horrific death camps.

“It wasn’t the first time I had seen a picture of Auschwitz, but it was certainly the most detail I’ve ever seen of Auschwitz,” said eighth grader Andrew Hier. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the barracks, the first time I ever saw the insides of the watchtowers.”

“They did a great way of showing the students that this really did happen, and it was a tragedy for all of these people,” Sareli said.

Along with the students, about 50 members of Anshei Emuna Congregation in Delray Beach were also on the tour.

They’re an older generation but still learning the same lessons.

“If we don’t realize what happened, we won’t be able to be cognizant that it can happen again,” said the congregation’s rabbi, Jack Engel.

The tour was difficult to watch at times, as it took students inside the gas chambers and inside the barracks.

Photos were shown of piles and piles of suitcases, dishes, and shoes, things that were confiscated as people arrived at the camp.

In all, the tour was about an hour long, detailing life and death in Auschwitz.

“Actually seeing what millions of my people had to go through impacted me way more than just hearing about it,” Hier said.

For more information on scheduling a virtual tour of Auschwitz, go to https://southern.ncsy.org/holocaust-education.

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