On June 2, 2016, a group of 28 NEC and CTE students visited the Museum of Jewish Heritage to view the Holocaust exhibit entitled “Meeting Hate with Humanity”. Prior to this trip, Ms. Wilm and Mr. Abbaleo’s classes dedicated a large portion of marking periods three and four to completing a teacher facilitated, student driven, cross-curricular Holocaust research project. The focus of this project was to examine the Holocaust from various perspectives and gather information on several topics to compose a book containing information spanning the entire World War II era.
A majority of the unit focused on the global impact of World War II, the Holocaust, and the leaders that represented the many nations involved in the war. In Sociology, students focused on the sociological and cultural aspects of genocide such as; the root causes of genocide, the impact of genocide on society, and the importance of genocide awareness. Lastly, both content areas completed an in-depth analysis of the mistreatment of people during this era, specifically Jews, to truly comprehend the societal impact of war and genocide. After months of planning, the students were able to attend a field trip to New York, which helped further their educational experience and meet the learning goals established in both units.
The first stop on the museum’s tour was learning about Jewish heritage; including customs and religion. The students were able to view a number of different artifacts including Torah’s that were saved from the Holocaust, traditional Jewish ceremonial artifacts, videos depicting Jewish ceremonies, and the difference between traditional and non-traditional Jews. On the second floor of the museum, learners were able to view artifacts from the Holocaust and draw connections between what they learned in class and compare that to their findings about Jewish heritage on the first floor. Artifacts viewed by the students were stripped pajamas, dresses sewn by women during the liberation of camps, Nazi propaganda and newspapers, images from the Holocaust, and Torah’s that were rescued. The students also viewed videos that depicted the Polish ghettos established by the Nazis and were able to view the horrific conditions. The last stop on the tour was the top floor where students learned about other genocides that have happened around the world. In this area, students were able to view the “Garden of Stones” which was donated by Andy Goldsworthy and represents the strength and fragility of life. While I believe I have summed up the real-world experiences of this trip, I believe no one can describe the discoveries and impact better than the students who attended. Below are quotes from their learning experiences.
- I liked the fact that I got to see actual artifacts from the Holocaust. We all engaged in conversations about information we learned in class and while attending the field trip. I also liked the lighting of each floor, how it changed according to exhibit, and how it reflected the tone of what we saw. – Akira Roberts
- I liked how the museum was split up into three parts and how the lighting changed with each floor. First we learned about the heritage of the Jews, and then the light became darker as you went in the Holocaust section of the museum. Finally, everything became brighter as you entered into the final part. I really enjoyed the trip and I learned a lot more about the Holocaust. We were able to go to see artifacts that I would not have seen if I hadn’t went to the museum. – Devon Hood
- Visiting this exhibit allowed me to physically see artifacts we had been discussing, and brought what I had been learning in class to life. To see the artifacts up close was great. – Desiree Fields
- I loved that they not only told us about Jewish traditions and history, but that they also they recognized other genocides, and people who helped the save Jews. I also loved that the tour incorporated videos from Holocaust survivors and artifacts. – Vacera Burns
Lastly, mine and Mr. Abbaleo’s class would like thank the West Side Alumni Association for funding our museum tickets, and Mrs. Serrattan for funding the bus so that we could attend the trip. This would not have been possible without you!