The theme of the 2022-23 school year at Central has been “A Community of Kavod.” With this concept of respect in mind, Central observed Yom HaShoah on Tuesday, April 18, and, as a community, reflected on the Holocaust and its impact on the entire world.

Central seniors honored the day by touring the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Ohel at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens. The students were given a lesson about the Rebbe’s connection to the Holocaust by former Central faculty member, Rabbi Shlomo Teichtel. The visit was a meaningful addition to Central’s Senior Seminar program, with many finding it an opportunity for prayer and reflection.

Later in the day, a school-wide assembly was led by students from Central’s senior “From the Ashes” class, under the guidance of Rabbi Dr. Joshua Strulowitz. The assembly included a performance from Central’s choir, as well as a screening of the class’s culminating project, a series of interviews with Holocaust survivors. The interviews were written, filmed, and produced by the students, giving these seniors the opportunity to forge a personal connection with individual survivors.

The experience of interviewing the survivors was made even more significant by the fact that the assignment required the creative component of editing – choosing the most crucial footage to include in the final product. The result was a series of powerful personal testimonies: relevant, vital, and, at a time when the number of Holocaust survivors worldwide is growing smaller, crucial. Senior Rebecca Boord reflected on the volume of information revealed in her group’s interview with survivor Anne Rudoler.

“It was so interesting that we got to speak with someone who was a bit older during the Holocaust, because most survivors were children at the time,” she said. “She remembered a lot. The interview was an amazing experience.”

Senior Gabi Lefkowitz was also left with a lasting impression from her group’s interview with survivor Rachelle Epstein. “It was really special to hear about this from someone who spoke with such resilience – who went through something so terrible, but who had such an optimistic outlook on life, and who was able to rebuild her life with such energy. Experiences like this one made the ‘From the Ashes’ program so special to me.”

Survivors Ruth Levovitz, Lee Lichtman, and Debbie Orenbuch were also interviewed. Seniors Abby Abayev, Revital Abdurahmanov, Maytal Chelst, Leba Fass, Penina Feldman, Sara Feldman, Emily Froehlich, Daniella Orenbuch, Shira Rosoff, Shira Rothbort, Yael Schwartz, Ahuva Shachar, Sophia Shaool, Rena Sturm, Rivka Sullivan, Adina Tanner, and Leba Weissman also interviewed survivors as part of the course.