Today, our community commemorated the death of six million Jews through the observance of Yom Hashoah. As a community comprised of only kindergarten students, we at YLS did not mark this day in an official capacity. Here is a link to an article describing some of the debate around the age children should begin learning about the Holocaust.
Even though we are not discussing the Holocaust directly with our children today, a related idea that we can focus on with young children is the concept of being inclusive and welcoming to others who are both similar and different than we are. We work on this in school both through specific learning experiences as well as through coaching children through daily social interactions they have with each other in our school community. We have focused this year on skills related to building the social capacity for empathy. One of the ways to build empathy is to work to get to know an individual, connect with them, and understand who they are. As parents, we can model this idea through the language, both verbal and nonverbal, that we use to connect with and describe people that we interact with or speak about, both from within our community and outside our community.
The Jews in Europe were persecuted by the Nazis during the Shoah because they were perceived to be different and they were not viewed as human beings by their oppressors. The irony is that many who survived the atrocities of the Holocaust did so due to the benevolence of people who were different than they were. There are countless stories that recount the kindness that many non-Jews showed towards their Jewish neighbors in an attempt to hide them from the Nazis and save their lives, often risking their own lives in the process. The concept of empathy, which we have worked so hard to impart to our students, is reminiscent of these heroic tales from the Holocaust, and an idea that is so important to remember as our community commemorates Yom Hashoah.
May we never forget the six million Jews who tragically lost their lives during the Shoah and may their memory be a blessing for our nation and our community.
Mrs. Becky Troodler