Instead of hearing the story of one Holocaust survivor, the Fuchs Mizrachi School 10th-grade students in Anna Bolman’s history class were able to speak with seven Holocaust survivors as part of a documentary project for Yom Hashoah.
“Everyone knows about the Holocaust, everyone has the ability to learn about the Holocaust but to really study it in-depth and to hear from the people, I think the students were stunned by some of the stories,” said Bolman, a University Heights resident. “I think they were really impacted by hearing it in a very intimate way.”
The students were broken into small groups and had learned the survivors’ stories while asking questions. Bolman let the students find their own voice for their documentaries, but told them to ask each survivor what the next generation’s responsibility is to the legacy of the Holocaust, which is answered in the 12 documentaries that will be shown April 12 during the school’s Yom Hashoah program.
“It was impressive to the students that (the survivors) want to share their stories, they want their stories to be heard because every time their stories are heard, they can help,” she said.
When the school received a grant in summer 2017 from the Facing History and Ourselves’ Jewish Education Department Center in Boston, it allowed Bolman to create a more modern curriculum for her class. With a documentary project, Bolman said she was able to combine a new way to learn the content while still giving the students a modern understanding.
“It’s always about the content that we’re learning and what’s important to learn and the deeper messages,” she said. “But it’s also (about) what skills are being taught at the same time. Being able to learn new technology, I thought, was an amazing skill to have.”
With the grant, Bolman hired a professional documentary filmmaker to teach videorecording and editing skills along with Lake Erie Ink, a creative writing organization in Cleveland Heights, to teach how to write scripts. The films range from six to 20 minutes and took close to two months to complete.
"Thursday is really a testament to what (the students) created on their own,” Bolman said.