Every year the Ida and Bernard Behr Holocaust Memorial Education Fund sponsors a free trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Participants attend pre- and post-trip sessions to prepare for and debrief from their experience. This year the trip will be on May 1. Applications will be available next month. For more information, contact Mike Steklof at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below are reflections from teens who participated last year.
“My experience to the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was something that could not be duplicated in any way. I was told stories and given insight that is not available by visiting the museum with family or on a class trip. The moment I arrived home from my whirlwind day, I immediately began telling my dad everything I had heard,” said Hannah Mazzoni.
“I was transformed in the sense that I knew what I learned needed to be spread and shared in respect to the lives lost during that horrible time. The lesson that has never left me is that we must be aware and not afraid to question the norm in order to prepare for a better future. I am truly blessed to be one of few who now have more knowledge about these events. I feel I am better at giving respect and standing in solidarity with those facing violence in today’s world. I would suggest this trip to anyone willing to simply listen,” she added.
“My experience visiting the Holocaust Museum with the Jewish Community Center was one of the most memorable days of my life,” said Isaac Edelen. “Before the trip, I had studied the Holocaust in school but never to the extent of our tour that day. Our guide was knowledgeable about the events of the Holocaust and all the subtle details of the museum’s architecture that symbolized the horrific aspects of the time period.
“It was a rare chance to look deeper into the tragedies of the Holocaust than I ever could have on my own,” he continued. “The JCC Holocaust trip was incredibly impactful in my life and I would recommend it to any high school student.”
The experience of the Holocaust Museum is unlike any other museum trip. Normally, I find myself quite bored, slogging along, wishing that my parents would take me somewhere to get food or something of that nature. But going with the Louisville Jewish Community Center was truly an experience I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Hannah Esrock.
“Before going to the museum, we learned a great deal about the REAL history of the Holocaust, not the glossed over version we get in our high schools,” she added. “Just his slide shows got me choked up so I knew to pack tissues for when we went to the actual museum. Our instructor kept emphasizing how this all started and the power of the human voice. After learning so much about why this tragic event in history occurred, I felt prepared for the trip.
“There was awkward silence on the bus, an unspoken understanding of what we were all about to emotionally experience,” Esrock continued. “I had spoken to my grandmother right before leaving for the trip and she told me that the things you see there, even smell there, will always stick with you. She told me to really pay attention to the words my instructor gifts us so that I could treasure the experience and tell others about it.
“And that was the whole point of this scholarship trip,” she noted. “The man that gifted us this experience wanted us to be able to spread the REAL story far and wide, be able to prevent other tragedies in the world even, perhaps. When he told us that, I had no idea the fire that would light underneath myself after this trip.
“As we walked through the dark halls of the Museum in Washington DC, I think the thing that stuck out to me the most was the architecture,” she observed. “Our instructor informed us that every single corner, every single bannister, every single shadow in the entire building was thoughtfully put there to represent the horrible experience the Jewish people went through. It really made me feel even more connected with my ancestors and feel the entire experience so much more.
“At the end of the trip, my grandmother was right,” Esrock concluded. “I could see the cattle car, I could smell the shoes. I could understand how this happened and that it was all of our duties as the next generation to make sure this never happens again. I am currently in a Race Class at the University of Louisville in which we discuss why such awful discrimination is happening and what can be done about it. I hope to go on to a social justice minor and I’d like to think it was all inspired by this trip.”