‘Names, Not Numbers’ Shares Holocaust Stories, Lessons At Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center

Jewish 1

After a successful first year, the Suffolk County Y Jewish Community Center (SYJCC) is hosting its second Names, Not Numbers program this fall. 

The Holocaust memorial film project at the JCC is headed by Jane Pashman, a granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors and educator for 20 years. Pashman said, “I’m very dedicated to making sure the next generation not just learns the history of the Holocaust, but also the lessons of the Holocaust.”

This year the program has more than 70 sessions worldwide and teaches students about the extermination of some 6 million Jews, Romani people, Slavs, gays, lesbians, people with disabilities, and others by Nazi Germany, and how some survived. The curriculum begins with education on not just the Holocaust and not just about Auschwitz or concentration camps, but also what caused the events.

After education, students meet with professionals to put their learnings into practice. A journalist teaches students how to talk to Holocaust survivors and prepares participants to conduct interviews with them, and a filmmaker shows students how to record the interview. 

In the interview, students learn about the survivors’ lives before, during and after World War II, as well as their plans before the Holocaust, which Pashman says is important to understand how they lived.

“They really get to delve deeper into the story,” Pashman said. “They really get to understand the complexities of the survivors’ lives much more deeply than just studying it in a history book.”

The result is a one-hour documentary that shares class experiences and the interview conducted. The documentary’s premiere was shown to more than 500 people and received positive reviews. 

The JCC will also host a Youth Leadership Conference in collaboration with Suffolk Community College. Their Fighting Hate in Social Media & in Gaming event takes place on Dec. 1 and is open for schools to register. 

As the war between Israel and Hamas escalates and anti-Semitic incidents occur at a historic rate, Pashman believes projects like these are key to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive. “When you hear these individual stories and how hate affects individual people, I hope that is what makes a lasting impact on young people and all of us.” 

Last session’s documentary can be found on the JCC’s YouTube page. More information on the Suffolk JCC, their Names, Not Numbers program and other upcoming events can be found at syjcc.org/