Each year, Branksome students participate in Holocaust Education Week as a way to meaningfully learn about the Holocaust.
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Education Week is “The Holocaust and Now.” The theme aims to remind us of the continued importance of remembering the Holocaust and discussing the instances of hatred and prejudice that persist within our society today.
At Monday’s Assembly, we were honoured to welcome Holocaust survivor, Vera Schiff, who shared her experience at Theresienstadt, a concentration camp. Ms. Schiff was the only member of her family to survive.
Ms. Schiff told students how, after her mother passed away in the camp, she found her mother’s secret diary. In it, her mother had compiled life lessons she wanted to pass along to her sole surviving daughter. In one passage she wrote, “I hope and have faith that your broken heart will not crush you; trust the strength of your will! Do not give into your sorrow and anguish; you have to look after your health, my child!”
Her mother’s words helped guide Ms. Schiff as she rebuilt her life after the Holocaust—a poignant example of how words have a profound impact on how we remember history and shape our futures.
During Holocaust Education Week, it is important to listen to and learn from stories like Ms. Schiff’s. “From the safety and comfort of our lives in Canada, it is difficult to fathom the atrocities that you and your family experienced,” said Izzy, Grade 12 Student Prefect. “Please know that by sharing your memories with us, you have strengthened our resolve to stand up against injustice, and for this we are very grateful.”
As a school and as a community, we must never forget what happened in WWII. Ms Schiff’s moving story reminds us of the continued importance of standing up against racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance within our own communities, both locally and globally.