Eight local high school students, four from Temple Beth Israel and four from The Community Synagogue, are being honored by the United Jewish Appeal Federation for their participation in the “Witness Theater” and “Project Witness” programs.
The families of the eight students will receive the L’dor V’dor award on Thursday, April 26, at 8 p.m. at The Community Synagogue in Sands Point. Felice Friedson, the founder, president and CEO of The Media Line, will be the guest speaker.
“Witness Theater” and “Project Witness” sought to involve Holocaust survivors in projects that would be therapeutic and allow them to pass on their memories to the next generation.
J.D. Friedland’s son, Michael, participated in the “Witness Theater” program. He said that his son was shocked by the power of the experience.
“To his surprise, he really connected with the survivors and always speaks fondly of them,” Friedland wrote in an email. “I know this has been a moving and meaningful experience for him.”
“Witness Theater” was a collaboration between 13 high school students and five Holocaust survivors, under the guidance of a social worker and a drama therapist. The project culminated with a performance this week at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center in Garden City, where the survivors narrated their own stories while the students acted them out.
Friedland said his son, a sophomore at Paul D. Schreiber High School, enjoyed the project despite having a limited prior experience on stage.
“We would highly recommend this to anyone who has an interest, as the mitzvah of being a witness to survivors is critical,” he wrote.
The other program was “Project Witness,” which comprised 24 students and eight survivors who met every other week at Sid Jacobson JCC, a nonprofit partner of the UJA-Federation. The collaboration resulted in an exhibit of collages, photos, poems and journals by the students based on the stories of the survivors that will be displayed at Adelphi University.
Lili Silverstein, a junior at Portledge School, said that one of the survivors died during the project.
“This really made it clear that we need to hear these stories now and that it is up to us,” she wrote in an email. “We need to remember the atrocities of the past and bear witness to these stories so that we will not allow it to happen again.”
She, too, would recommend the experience to others.
“You will not forget what you learn here,” she wrote.
In addition to Silverstein and Michael Friedland, other students from The Community Synagogue were Isabelle Jackson and Sarah Rubin. The students participating in the two programs from Temple Beth Israel were Molly Abramowitz, Micah Golan, Julia Satovsky and Dylan Schor.
To RSVP for the April 26 event at The Community Synagogue or make a donation to UJA-Federation in honor of the Temple Beth Israel and The Community Synagogue participants, please contact Shari Abel-Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-762-5802.