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Alon This Monday I had the opportunity to attend the ‘Stars Without a Heaven’ Holocaust event at St. Stephens College. Specifically referencing the experiences of children during the atrocities, we firstly sat before a panel of six people with a wide range of knowledge on the topic. After this, we were invited to an interview regarding our experience with Holocaust learning, more specifically our Poland ‘journey’.

This was the first time I had formally spoken on my time visiting and learning about Holocaust heritage in Poland so the event allowed me both a period of reflection, as well as a deeper understanding into individual stories. Moreover, in presenting to a number of young teenagers, I was reminded of the importance which comes along with Holocaust learning. In pairing this with one of the questions we were asked - What is the significance of learning about the Holocaust? - I think back to the responsibility which we as students, and more broadly as people, hold. With the notion of history repeating itself, communication between different peoples, cultures and traditions becomes of major importance.

On behalf of Elsa High School, I would like to thank the faculty and students of St. Stephens College for welcoming us and for their readiness to learn about such a topic.

Victor On Monday, Clarissa, Alon, and I went to St Stephens College to attend a Holocaust information event. We were asked a series of questions related to our personal experiences learning about the Holocaust. Since we all went on the Poland trip last year, we all had a degree of personal understanding of the Holocaust. 

One particular question that intrigued me was about the necessity to learn about the Holocaust despite its at first apparently weak personal connections to one’s daily life. As I pondered about the ways to answer this question, I realized that there was more to learning about the Holocaust than simply having a personal connection to it. I wondered: “Why is it that we still pore over texts by Plato, Shakespeare, and other writers despite the seemingly nonexistent connection between us and them?” The insight that I obtained was that we learn about them precisely because their ideas still do have a strong influence in our daily lives. Likewise, the consequences of the Holocaust still pervade in our communities, societies, and culture. 

Indeed, learning about the holocaust is a way to understand the ideas and methods that engendered it and the detrimental effects it had on humanity, and by understanding the Holocaust, we can prevent atrocities in the future. Overall, this experience served as a session for personal reflection, and I gained many new insights!

Clarissa On Monday, Alon, Victor, and I wereasked to be Carmel ambassadors at a Holocaust exhibition - “Stars without a Heaven” at St. Stephens College and share knowledge about the Holocaust. We were interviewed by Form 1 students which began with the interviewer asking me about when I first learned about the Holocaust. The interview continued with questions directed to all three of us and we shared our experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. As we had visited Poland approximately a year ago, when we were interviewed about our encounters with Holocaust memorials and museums, every one of us shared a memory of the places we had visited in Poland. I shared my thoughts on the shoes located in the Majdanek concentration camp and the sheer number of them. 

Moreover, we shared our views on the importance of learning about the Holocaust and the need to remember. Even though the Holocaust is seen as a part of history which occurred 75 years ago, it is still imperative that we recognize the mistakes of the past in order to learn and better understand ourselves. As an individual who is currently studying history, I believe that ignorance of the past would not benefit humans in the future. The adage - “History always repeats itself” - holds true. Genocides and war are seen again and again in the past and, in the present, demonstrations and protests have sparked around the world. 

All in all, I was thankful for the opportunity to share my knowledge about the Holocaust with students that are not familiar with it. In addition, I believe that it is imperative to always learn from history to increase our cross-cultural awareness and understanding.

Hannah Davidson and Tahlia (Grade 10) This Thursday we went to St Stephen's College in Stanley. This was part of an event in coordination with HK Holocaust and Tolerance Centre (HKHTC) about the lives of children in the Holocaust. The event was specifically about the Shanghai Ghetto. We were driven to the school and were led into their auditorium. 

We had a chance to look at the exhibition in the back of the hall (about children in the Holocaust) and then sat down for their assembly. Simon Li from the HKHTC introduced the topic of the Jews in the Shanghai Ghetto. 

We watched the short film: ‘A Children’s Song’. The film is about two friends - Alfred, who was a refugee from Europe and Weizhen, a young Shanghainese girl. Weizhen’s family was hosting Alfred and his father and they became fast friends. The two friends were torn apart by the war in Shanghai and were only brought together through their grandchildren’s music recital. This recital is especially poignant as the song they played was a song Weizhen taught Alfred when they were children in Shanghai. 

After the short movie, we were called up to the stage to read excerpts from Shoshana Kahan’s diary. Shoshana Kahan was an actress who escaped Europe and went to Shanghai. The special thing about her diary was that it was very accurate and painted the picture of her experiences in Shanghai very well. It also incorporated a lot of her emotions and what she was feeling at the time: this was especially very touching.

After the assembly, we were given a tour of the St. Stephen's College campus and library and then sat down for an interview with some students. They were recording our interviews for the school podcast and asked us some questions about Judaism and our experiences of Jewish daily life. 

These questions included: 

  • What are some important dates in the calendar for Judaism? 
  • What does Judaism mean to you? 
  • Do you think people in Hong Kong are well-educated on Jewish culture? If not, how do you think this issue can be handled? 
  • Why is Rosh Hashanah holiday celebrated in October instead of January?
  • What are your views on antisemitism? Do you think it still exists today?

We had a great experience at St. Stephens as they were very welcoming and curious about the topic. Thank you to St. Stephens staff and students, Simon Li and Mr. Julian for organising and running this event.