Millburn High School Rising Senior Matthew Survis was recently honored with a Special Recognition Award by Seton Hall University's Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies (SRTF).
Matt studied the tragic causes and results of the Holocaust in Language Arts teacher Mary Vazquez’s class at Millburn Middle School. Affected by what he learned, Matt participated in the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest's "Twinning with a Survivor" program, during which he met Holocaust survivor Marcia Kreuzman. It was through his relationship with Ms. Kreuzman that the Middle School student decided to dedicate his Bar Mitzvah project to developing a program to teach younger children about the Holocaust.
According to SRTF Executive Director Dr. David Bossman, “Matthew understood that there is a need to teach about the Holocaust to today’s young children, as the opportunity to meet survivors – as he himself had – will not be possible in the future. Matt’s curriculum, ‘Teaching About the Holocaust,’ is designed specifically so younger students will be able to understand the Shoah (Holocaust) through the individual accounts of children who did not survive.” Dr. Bossman continued, “Matt believes that all of us have the responsibility to be an ‘upstander,’ rather than a bystander when others are persecuted. His curriculum will help connect today’s youngsters to this painful historical event as they learn the real-life stories of children who were a part of it.”
Mrs. Vazquez, a trustee of the Sister Rose Thering Fund, brought Matt’s program to the attention of Dr. Paul Winkler, Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Dr. Winkler acknowledged the significance of Matt’s efforts, and deemed the teenager’s undertaking a valuable teaching tool. It is now included in Holocaust education curricula throughout the Garden State.
About the Sister Rose Thering Fund
The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies was created and named in honor of Sister Rose Thering, O.P., Ph.D., in recognition and appreciation of her exemplary dedication throughout her life to improving Jewish-Christian relations through teacher education, especially at the elementary and secondary school levels. The goals of the Fund’s programs are to reduce prejudice born of ignorance and misperception, to promote means for conveying the richness of the Jewish and Christian traditions accurately and without bias and to foster cooperation among Jews and Christians in areas of common social welfare. More than 350 teachers throughout New Jersey have benefited from Fund scholarships for their studies at Seton Hall University’s Jewish-Christian Studies graduate program since 1993, and have had an impact on 160,000 students in their classes.