Rachel Gottlieb

By in Holocaust

It was an absolute honor meeting the remarkable Holocaust survivors that this internship allowed me too. For me, I’ve been in the presence of many Holocaust survivors before, for my grandmother and her sister are Holocaust survivors themselves (along with many other family members). Because of this, I knew what to expect meeting other Holocaust survivors. However, even with my history of meeting Holocaust survivors, a wave of emotions always takes over. Through this internship, I had the opportunity to sit and meet with Rachel Gottlieb, a remarkable women whose spirit and energy is alive and well. Her positive attitude, smile, her constant reminder of how old she is, and how much she enjoys swimming impressed me from the start. It was refreshing to see her spirit so vibrant and smile so wide. However, as Leo Schuchert and I began interviewing Rachel, her smile began to slowly disappear. It was heartbreaking to see how much the Holocaust still effected Rachel, for she kept on saying the more she talked about the Holocaust, the more she would experience flashbacks, and every time she would talk about the Holocaust, she would re-live it. Her story included the horrors of Auschwitz, the trauma of having to let go of her sister and mother’s hand, and her perseverance of surviving. She concluded her story by stating her faith in g-d, and although she would not have considered herself religious, she held onto her faith in order to survive.

                Teaching about the Holocaust is such a rewarding experience. It was incredible being able to teach such valuable information and such a crucial time period in history. We used a slideshow with pictures and quotes to teach, which allowed students to engage in discussions about what they saw in the photographs. I believe this technique is very beneficial (as opposed to just using words), for they can get a visual representation of what we are teaching. The most satisfying aspect of the experience was seeing how much the children got out of the lesson. Whenever a question was posed about the Holocaust, the students engaged in such great conversations and discussions.

                Being a Holocaust educator is an important role in today’s society. I have been a Holocaust educator in the past, which sparked my passion in continuing this role. Because of my experience of being a Holocaust educator, teaching this material to students is something that is very important to me. As Holocaust educators, we are the voice for the survivors that are no longer with us, or no longer want to share their story. We have a role to teach the Holocaust so others will not forget, and to teach the lessons of the Holocaust. For me, I think the most important aspect of being a Holocaust educator is to promote or emphasis the lessons of the Holocaust. Of course, there is so much to teach about the Holocaust, but something I want students to gain are the lessons. These lessons include standing up to injustice, do not stand idle when you see atrocities occurring, and most importantly, humanity. No matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, no human being should be prosecuted because of that, and that is something I hope students will gain from the lessons of the Holocaust.

                The Holocaust is something that cannot be ignored. Teaching and remembering the Holocaust serves to perpetuate the memory of an event that is forever stamped in the minds of many. By remembering the Holocaust, it also serves to promote the message of “Never Again” through education and testimonies. Survivor testimonies are an incredible way to remember the Holocaust, for these testimonies give others a first-hand look at the Holocaust. It is important, not just for the survivors to show that we still are remembering, but also about the issues that we can bring out, talking about what happened in those times, and how we can relate those issues to what is occurring today. We remember so we will not forget; we remember to share the lessons of injustice; we remember the horrors so it will not happen again. There are countless reasons for the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

When I found out about this Holocaust internship here at Wagner College, I instantly jumped at the opportunity. It is so important for the survivors living on Staten Island to have their voices heard. This program gives representation to these people, to give a voice to these survivors. Being a 3rd generation Holocaust survivor, I understand the importance of raising awareness and sharing the stories of Holocaust survivors so their stories go unnoticed. Therefore, this Holocaust internship at Wagner allows for the survivors on Staten Island to go unnoticed. This program gives students the wonderful opportunity to teach, inspire, and grow.