Holocaust Remembrance Day at Masters

When Lily Zuckerman ’24 saw the documentary “How Saba Kept Singing” during a summer internship at Retro Report, a nonprofit news organization, she immediately knew it was something she wanted to share with the Masters community.

“I think this film is a great combination of showing Holocaust history, dealing with trauma and connecting with your family,” Zuckerman said. “The film explains the pain and horror that Holocaust survivors endured and continues to face.”

Zuckerman, co-chair of Masters’ Jewish Culture Club (JCC), spoke with faculty advisor and upper school English teacher Miriam Emery, and club co-chairs Jesse Gelman ’25 and Taylor Marlowe ’25, about the award-winning film which tells the story of Holocaust survivor David “Saba” Wisnia. Directed by Sara Taksler and executive produced by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, it documents David’s travels with his grandson, Avi Wisnia, and chronicles the story of how he survived the Holocaust through music, which the duo perform together. 

Emery agreed it was the right film to show during the Holocaust Remembrance Day assembly on February 2. A few days before the screening, upper school students Aron Tucker ’24 and Mia Steinwurtzel ’26 shared personal family stories related to the Holocaust with upper school students.

“We were trying to give more context to the remembrance day itself and let students know that we have people in our community who are intimately connected to the Holocaust in their own families,” Emery said.

After the film screening, Saba’s grandson, Avi, performed two songs: Avi’s grandfather's song "Oświęcim" (Auschwitz), originally written in Polish which Avi translated into English, and "My Yiddishe Mama" made famous by Jewish entertainer Sophie Tucker. Avi was then joined onstage by Taksler, the film’s director, for a Q&A session.

“The highlight for me was the Q&A,” JCC Co-Chair Gelman said. “It showed how invested and interested our community was in learning about David's journey and that really lifted up my heart. My family has its own experience with the Holocaust and those who passed in the camps, and the film taught me to focus more on the positive emotions and try not to let hate fill our hearts.” 

Avi and Taksler spent the rest of the day at Masters speaking with Jewish Culture Club members and visiting filmmaking and journalism classes.

Avi said, “Our day here was really powerful and meaningful, not just to be in the room with all the students and to feel like everyone was connecting to my grandfather’s story, but also to be walking around the halls afterward and have students come up to me and tell me how the film affected them or maybe some personal story about their family. It just means the story has an impact and my grandfather’s legacy continues and it means the world to me.”

Beyond the class visits, faculty told Emery how Holocaust Remembrance Day was discussed throughout the community: in history, Latin and French classes and during WinterMission. The library also featured a Holocaust and WWII/Nazi Resistance display on its shelves.

During the week, the middle school community watched the film “The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm,” which features a conversation between a 10-year-old boy and his great-grandfather, an Auschwitz survivor. The screening was followed by small group discussions in advisory the next day. 

“The students seemed very engaged and touched by the movie, which does a beautiful job of balancing the horror of the Holocaust with the very sweet and loving relationship between the narrator and his great-grandfather,” said Lynn Salehi, associate head of middle school.

“We need to recognize this day at our School because the Holocaust was something that can never be forgotten, not because we need to remember the horrors, but why they happened, so it can never happen again,” Gelman said.

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