In a continued effort to promote Holocaust education within schools the National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section hosted a virtual showing of viewing of the documentary ”The Barn.”
The film was produced by Rachel Kastner, Matthew Hiltzik and Phil Berger. It recounts the tale of Holocaust survivor, Karl Schapiro, and his granddaughter, Kastner reunite with the woman who saved his life during the Holocaust.
NCJW-Peninsula Section, reached out to middle schools and high schools, across the country, to offer students and faculty the opportunity to view the documentary through its webinar on Jan. 26.
Seven school districts and more than 2,600 students registered to watch the film. Students from Lawrence High School and Lawrence Middle School, , Lynbrook South and North Middle school and Lynbrook High School, Freeport Middle School, Deer Park High School, the Ella Baker school in Manhattan, and Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin. More than 100 individuals from a dozen different states also registered for the viewing.
Pnina Knopf is the NCJW-Peninsula Section’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program chair and past president of the Lawrence-based organization. She said that because the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle, it will become more difficult to preserve the history of the Holocaust and educational presentations like the showing of ”The Barn” will become even more important.
“If students leave and tell one friend about what they heard, our job will have been done,” Knopf said.
Kastner made an appearance on Zoom from Israel during the showing and spoke to students about her path to becoming a documentary film producer. Kastner, 26, is a North Woodmere native who lives in Tel Aviv and began work on ”The Barn” when she was 18. The film premiered in 2019 at the International Miami Jewish Film Festival and has been shown in classrooms and to audiences around the world.
“My grandfather spoke to many hundreds of schools over the last few decades,” Kastner said. “I consider this work to be my continuation of his legacy and my own personal commitment to creating a more empathetic and compassionate world. So long as I have the privilege to do so, I will continue creating content to inspire empathy and resilience.”
In an effort to educate young generations on the Holocaust, Kastner teamed with TikTok influencer Montana Tucker, who has over 8.7 million followers, , to produce 10 micro episodes, one to two minutes in length retracing Tucker’s grandparents’ experience during the Holocaust.
The series, ”How To: Never Forget” was produced by Kastner and Israel Shachter with SoulShop Studios. Through the series, Tucker, 30, shares her experience with her generation — Gen Z —giving them a unique opportunity to learn about the Holocaust. Generation Z people were born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2010s.
“I personally am very passionate about bringing the stories to the younger generations where they are - on social media,” Kastner said. “I’ve been working on several projects to bring Holocaust history and survivor stories to the younger generations on TikTok and Instagram.”
The NCJW and Kastner are seeking to combat the escalation in antisemitism and Holocaust misinformation by educating all generations on what occurred in Nazi Germany and other countries in the 1930s and 1940s, while attacking the amount of Holocaust denial circulating around the world.
“These are the last few years that we will be able to listen to first hand, witness testimony,” Kastner said. I think that there should be an increased effort in the next few years for as many people to meet and hear from Holocaust survivors as possible.”