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Syracuse city schools remember the stories of Holocaust survivors

John smith

Individual stories of Holocaust survivors are being shared this week during social studies classes in Syracuse city schools by third generation descendants. The “Living Links” video provided students with a more vivid understanding of how difficult it was to survive the holocaust and how families appreciate their lasting legacies. At Lincoln Middle School, students were introduced to Sarah Pila Liederman from Chicago who told students about her Polish grandfather “Zaide” Saloman Pila.

“While it’s incredible that he left this big family behind, you can just imagine how much bigger my family might have been if his relatives had not all perished in the Holocaust.”

Pila Liederman spoke about her grandfather’s many sacrifices and his great appreciation of life, “despite enduring one of the most horrific atrocities of his time.” He worked in Shindler’s factory before making his way to the U.S. where he became a good businessman and operated a farm. Eighth grader Jack Fink was moved by the story.

“His story was amazing how he just kept going on, even though he was going through these horrible circumstances.  I just felt it to be very interesting, in fact, inspiring of how he kept pursuing freedom, essentially.”

Fink said he gives his granddaughter a lot of credit in being able to share her grandfather’s story.

“You have to be pretty brave to be able to share those horrible events that went on with a person you most likely were so close with and I just want to say thank you to the speaker for informing us from a very close perspective.”    

The video discussions were coordinated with 3GNY. Executive Director Dave Reckess comes from a family of four Holocaust survivors. He said the discussions are very meaningful for middle and high school students to build a personal bridge from history to survivors’ families.

“To time this special opportunity with the curriculum that eighth and 10th graders have been studying about World War II, the Holocaust, genocide around the world and American involvement in World War I and World War II.  So, this is a really neat opportunity to help bring a personal connection to the history lessons that students are learning across the district.”

Reckess said for the speakers involved, the events unfolding in Ukraine are distressing and are triggering painful memories of the past. He said that’s because many fleeing Ukraine are also Jewish descendants of Holocaust survivors.

John Smith
Jashawn Neios, Jack Fink, Abrionna Deuel, Sabah Ghanim