During the days of Chanukah, eighth grade students at Bnos Malka Academy had the opportunity to interview Holocaust survivors as part of Names, Not Numbers© – an interactive, multi-media Holocaust project created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg.

For all students, the interviews were meaningful and impactful, creating connections with the past generation and recording their history. For one student in particular, this became an opportunity to connect with her family’s history, illuminating the life of her deceased great-grandfather.

Shoshi Mosak, of Long Island, was assigned the interview of Mr. David Schwartzbach, originally from Skala, Poland. When she began her research, she realized that Mr. Schwartzbach came from the same town as her great-grandfather. Upon further investigation, she found a book authored by her great-grandfather, which listed Mr. Schwartzbach as a survivor. On the day of the interview, when Shoshi asked Mr. Schwartzbach if he knew her great-grandfather, he mentioned the “Skala book,” which Shoshi had with her. When he flipped through the pages, he stopped at the page about Shoshi’s great-grandfather and remarked, “We were neighbors!” He shared with Shoshi some of the experiences that had been similar for each. For Shoshi, connecting with Mr. Schwartzbach was connecting back to her great-grandfather. As a child, she did not hear or truly understand the history and surely did not appreciate what her great-grandfather had gone through. Now, speaking with Mr. Schwartzbach, she felt connected to her family’s history and the heroic great-grandfather that is no longer with her. In her case, the program may more aptly be called, “Neighbors, Not Numbers.”

The Names, Not Numbers Program is generously supported by a prominent national foundation.