As a young student, Holocaust survivor Elsa Thon never enjoyed math. Memorizing songs and poems came naturally to her, but as soon as numbers were brought into the equation, remembering became more difficult.
Elsa and her father would have the same conversation daily, where she would share her difficulties with the subject and he would respond with a smile, reassuring her that she could succeed in math if she wanted to.
It’s a story that might feel familiar to many children who currently struggle in school. And this sense of connection is one of the themes of Education Disrupted, a new exhibit from the Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program.
Launched in January 2023, Education Disrupted is a free digital exhibit that dives into the role of education (or the lack thereof) in the lives of school-aged children during the Holocaust. It paints a vivid picture of life before, during and after the Holocaust – and the impact of having one’s education interrupted.
The exhibit, currently available for learners of every age, is organized into four sections. As students navigate the exhibit, they form connections with the survivors through their stories – told through incredible audio and video testimony, memoir excerpts, images and artifacts. The exhibit helps students develop an understanding of the Holocaust through the first-person narratives published by the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program.
“Education Disrupted offers a relatable and accessible entry point to learning about the Holocaust and provides vital insights into the importance of access to education,” says Michelle Sadowski, Educator at the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program. “We know that younger students in particular have much to gain from accessing first-person stories to explore stories of resilience and to combat misinformation while fostering a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and its survivors.”