Dear Mr. & Mrs. Liebster:
I want to thank you and your foundation for creating the Who Am I? exhibit. As it travels through our district from school to school, I’m getting only positive feedback about it.
Evaluations all came back excellent in terms of telling the story of young Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Holocaust. The panels are compelling and interesting, and the presentation is in a clear and concise manner. Not only is it very appropriate for public schools, but it promotes fascinating follow-up discussion.
Here are two of our student comments :
- “This presentation was a more personal account of some of the victims in the Holocaust. It really hits you hard when you see the pictures of these innocent people and read their stories.”
- “Displaying this presentation is crucial in teaching tolerance and understanding.”
Thank you for allowing us to have this in our school district.
Eileen Shapiro, Program Planner
The School District of Palm Beach County
Department of Multicultural Education
3388 Forest Hill Blvd., Suite A-204
West Palm Beach, FL 33406
Kendra Cameron-Jarvis, Asheville, North Carolina
As a middle school teacher, I think it is vitally important that we teach our students about standing up for their beliefs and heeding the call to help others. I teach in an ethnically divided school that serves children from all over the world. Many of these students are different races, speak different languages, and believe different truths. However, the Holocaust is a bridge that connects all of these differences. We can all, no matter our background, empathize with injustice … and that is what the Holocaust webcam interview led by Diana Zientek did for my students. This interview is a common experience that my students all share and can all connect with and we can use this as a starting point for discussions on injustice and intolerance in our school and community and what we can do to change it. It was incredible to see the enthusiasm my students exuded about actually meeting Simone and Max and even more remarkable was the effect Max and Simone’s words had on my students. My students left school that day more tolerant of their fellow classmates and more open to other’s ideas, but most importantly, they left with a feeling of pride and courage, that they too, could stand firm in the face of their ‘lions’ and come out better for it.
I prepared my students for the interview with the help of Diana Zientek, a Holocaust consultant specializing in the Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Diana met with me many times before the day of the interview. She presented a multimedia lecture that included excerpts from Simone’s book, Facing the Lion, interviews with Simone, historical background on the Holocaust, and even a replica of a Jehovah Witness’s camp uniform! Before the interview my students wrote questions that were emailed to Simone and Max. The entire process was well organized and straightforward. Because of all the preparation, I felt my students had a good knowledge base when the day of the interview arrived. I highly recommend this experience to any educator that wants to impact their students, school, and community!
8th grade English Teacher
A.C. Reynolds Middle School
Asheville, North Carolina
Eric Silenzi, Palmetto, Florida
I am writing this letter in regards to the video conference that my Holocaust Studies students recently participated in. Over the years I have had numerous survivors visit my classroom, but this was something new, something different-so you can imagine how excited I was!
When I told my students about a video conference with Max and Simone Liebster, I immediately had their attention. When they discovered that Max and Simone lived in France and that we would be broadcasting from our school in real time they were instantly hooked.
It’s wonderful having a pool of local Holocaust survivors who can come to my classroom and speak to my students, but what about those who can’t? How does one who has so much to contribute yet lives so far away share their valuable lessons? The answer: video conferencing!
The benefits of video conferencing are obvious: it has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for my students and me. Video conferencing is a tool that enables teachers to bring the outside world into their classroom. My students and I are still thrilled about our video conference with Max and Simone and I look forward to the future use of video conferencing within my curriculum.
Just imagine-anyone, anywhere, anytime! It’s a whole new area of education that should and needs to be utilized.
Mr. Eric Silenzi
Social Studies Palmetto High School
1200 17th Street West
Palmetto, FL 34221
Cynthia Robinson, Richmond, Virginia
To whom it may concern,
This letter is to acknowledge the outstanding presentations that were made to my ninth and tenth grade English classes by Gray Miyashiro. In November 2006, Ms. Miyahshiro, gave four Holocaust presentations that prompted the students to think about what it meant to be a victim in the Holocaust. Her powerpoint presentation entitled “Choices” spoke about how two young individuals lived during that tough time period and how they had to live with the choices they made later in life. My students were able to write letters to one of the “young individuals,” Simone Liebster, a Nazi survivor. Simone’s story was told to the class as an example of a young person making the difficult decision to follow her conscience rather than to conform to a social injustice.
Later in March, 2007, Ms. Miyashiro returned to the classes and showed a video entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault.” This presentation discussed the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ struggle during the Holocaust and how their story was unique. Where many of the victims did not have a choice in being persecuted, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were given a “way out.” But rather than signing a document that dismisses their faith and principles, they chose to follow their conscience and to not conform. Students engaged in discussion and group activities that required them to examine authentic historical data and to solve problems as a team.
The presentations were insightful and meaningful. The presentations and activities had a lasting impact on the students’ perspective of the Holocaust as one of history’s darkest chapters. I learned quite a bit, and was inspired myself. I would recommend Ms. Miyashiro and the presentations to any teacher interested in teaching about the Holocaust, as well as the basic human principle of letting your conscience be your guide.
9th and 10th grade English Teacher
Thomas Jefferson High
4100 West Grace Street
Richmond, Virginia 23225
Kent Noska, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I would like to express my appreciation for the presentation of Greg and Sandra Milakovich regarding the struggles of Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II. The information they shared was strictly educational and very beneficial to our U.S. History students. The Milakovich’s rich knowledge, plentiful resources, unique perspective and various accounts from survivors made their presentation engaging for all. Inviting Greg and Sandra into our classroom was rewarding for the students and convinced me that this is an opportunity I will provide for future classes. It is my recommendation that you include this presentation in your curriculum. Their message of standing firm in the face of tremendous opposition is one that all students will benefit from.
Prairie High School
College Community Schools
Cedar Rapids, Iowa