WEST ORANGE, NJ — Golda Och Academy proudly announced this week that it has been selected to participate in the "Names, Not Numbers Inc©" program—an interactive, multimedia Holocaust project created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg. 

According to Golda Och Academy (GOA), this program transforms the traditional study of the Holocaust into an inter-generational program that preserves Holocaust survivors’ stories through the production of a documentary film scheduled to premiere the evening of Sunday, June 3, 2018. Twenty high school students in grades 10-12 have been selected for this program, which will run under the direction of Upper School Social Studies teacher Michael Stern (Names, Not Numbers Advisor) and Marketing and Communications Associate Erin Sternthal (Names, Not Numbers Coordinator).

Throughout the project, students work with professional journalists, filmmakers and Holocaust scholars in preparation for their oral history film documentary. GOA welcomed Jonah Kaplan (Class of 2004), Political/Investigative Reporter at ABC11 in Raleigh, NC, for the Opening Session of the program as well as Ken Kurson, former Editor in Chief of "The New York Observer," who each taught the students important interviewing skills.

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Prior to the students' interviews with Holocaust survivors, a documentary filmmaker teaches the students how to use the camera, lighting and sound equipment as well as filmmaking and editing techniques. Next month, students are scheduled to interview their survivors and will then edit their films down to 15-minute segments.

The filmmaker, who has documented the students’ journey throughout the project, combines the survivor stories with student testimonials in a documentary film “Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making.” The culminating event in June will premiere the film for the entire community as well as honor the interviewees.

“Names, Not Numbers is an experiential, collaborative project that allows for each student’s creativity to shine,” said Rosenberg. “Nobody really understands what the number six million means, but everyone can understand what one story means. It makes the Holocaust relevant to the students, and I have seen over and over how the project really touches their souls.”

Senior Aryeh Lande chose to participate in the program to further expand his knowledge of the Holocaust and learn about the Holocaust firsthand.

"Names, Not Numbers is both an exciting and humbling opportunity,” he said. “The Holocaust is something I have always been aware of, but have never had the opportunity to study in-depth. This program will give me the chance to further explore this topic and create a new piece of history for generations to come." 

Over the past 14 years, more than 150 projects have been completed through Names, Not Numbers, documenting stories of more than 1,500 survivors and WWII veterans by more than 4,000 students in the US, Canada and Israel. The films have been accepted into the archives of the Jewish National and University Library of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and are being archived at Yad Vashem and the Gottesman Library at Yeshiva University.

“We are extremely grateful for being chosen to participate in this project,” said Adam Shapiro, Head of School at GOA. “The fact that our students will be engaged in a program that will effect the Jewish community far beyond the walls of our school is tremendously powerful. We look forward to sharing how this program impacts our students and our community over the course of the year.” 

The Names, Not Numbers program is supported by a prominent national foundation.