The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Holocaust Remembrance Assembly: Honoring the Past, Educating the Present


The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored genocide of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime, its allies, and collaborators. It is one of the worst atrocities that has occurred in human history. 

The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It serves as a time to remember the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution.

 Although International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on January 27, Poly decided to have an assembly on May 6 to recognize Yom Hashoah, meaning Holocaust Remembrance Day in Hebrew. Members of the Jewish community celebrate Yom Hashoah on the 27 of Nisan, the seventh month of the civil calendar and the first of the religious year. The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset in 1959. The 27 of Nisan which usually falls in April or May, unless the 27 would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day.

During the assembly, students got to listen to some stories of the relatives of many Poly community members including students and faculty. One staff member who shared his relative’s story was Jared  Winston, the director of student life here at Poly. 

Winston shared the stories of his grandmother and grandfather. His grandmother was born in Brussels and escaped to the south of France where a Christian family hid her. After some time, she made it to Lisbon and finally Gibraltar, where she boarded a boat to England. Of the five ships that left the harbor carrying refugees, only two made it to England safely. After nearly ten years of living in England and attending Catholic school, Winston’s grandmother made it to the United States and began a new life with her parents. 

His grandfather, on the other hand, was born in Budapest, and his immediate family escaped during the Nazi’s rise to power. While he was lucky enough to escape from Italy to the United States, his extended family remained in Hungary and were eventually sent to concentration camps, where they were killed in the final months of World War II. Those who were able to escape ended up in various corners of the world, even as far as Australia.

When sharing these stories during the assembly, Winston stated that he felt “a sense of generational catharsis.” He also shared that “it feels therapeutic to discuss my family’s experiences because there are so many people, Jewish ancestry or not, who have similar stories of struggle, escape, and migration. A lot of us can connect and empathize with the feeling that our families were persecuted on the basis of identity. When we share our stories and listen to each other, we recognize that identity-based persecution and prejudice have no place in this world.” Winston’s reflections resonated deeply with many in attendance. 

Nate Rosenblatt ’26 shared with the Polygon that one of his relatives survived the Holocaust. Sitting in the audience and hearing others’ similar stories made him “feel like I wasn’t alone,” Rosenblatt said.

Many can agree with Winston and Rosenblatt on this. Hearing stories from people close to us while also sharing our personal experiences allows us to realize that we are not going through anything alone. In addition, expressing sorrow is one of the best ways to cope with hardships, and this assembly allowed many members of the Poly community to feel appreciated and heard.

Discussing tragedies like the Holocaust enables us to reflect on mistakes that were made in the past to ensure they do not happen again. History has an unfortunate and frustrating tendency to repeat itself. If we do not discuss the suffering of the past, we may leave the door open for suffering in the future. Winston shared that he hopes that “in recognizing the horrors of the Holocaust, Jewish people around the world will remember the generational trauma we share and work to ensure that violence against specific groups of people is unacceptable.” Nobody should experience the displacement and tragedy that victims of the Holocaust did, even if the scale fails to reach that of the Holocaust. He ended his interview with the Polygon by stating that “such suffering, no matter the scope, breaks my heart.”

As members of the Poly community reflect on this assembly, it’s clear that sharing personal narratives plays a crucial role in both educating and healing. The stories shared remind us of resilience and courage, urging us not to forget or repeat past tragedies. Moving forward, let us deepen our commitment to tolerance and understanding, striving to ensure that the horrors of the past will never be repeated.

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