Holocaust Survivor’s Story Inspires and Motivates Students

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A couple of years ago Stanley Bernath z”l, a local Holocaust survivor, spoke to students from Facing History New Tech High School at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Federation beneficiary agency. This is one of the most meaningful ways students can experience history, by meeting a person connected to an event they are learning about. Their teacher, Miriam Giardina, shared that after hearing Stanley speak, the students were able to draw important connections between his traumatic experience and difficulties they might face in their own lives.

She said, “Hearing Stanley talk was profound. Knowing these kids’ stories and hearing them ask Stanley questions, you can see them searching for themselves within this narrative. Some of our kids experience trauma in their lives, they have a lot of things they go through—like some of them experience drug use in the home, they experience being evicted from their homes, they have gang violence happening around them. That’s a reality for them, it's not something that’s on TV, it's real. To hear Stanley talk about his traumatic experience that he went through as a teenager—as someone their age—they can find a connection and that’s really helpful. During his talk, he kept repeating three things that he had learned, which was to never give up no matter how bad it seems, to always believe in yourself, and that no one is any better than I am and I am not better than anyone else. Hearing him say those three things after surviving the Holocaust, certainly our kids can take that to heart and then do something good in the world the same way he did something good in the world."

The Maltz Museum is now working toward the permanent installation of Stanley Bernath’s interactive biography at the Museum, where his story will inspire and motivate generations of students to come.

You make stories like this possible because of your support to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland's annual Campaign.

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