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Students Host Living History Events for Holocaust Remembrance Day
US Studnets

In commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 6, middle and upper school students took a step into the past, hosting two separate events that brought the harrowing accounts of Holocaust survivors directly to King. Through intimate interviews, the students heard testimonials and considered the unsettling proximity of the historical devastation to our present day.

For Grades 9 and 10, siblings Alex ’24 and Benji Hugon ’26 interviewed their grandmother, Miki Pear, alongside her friend, Linda Schwab — both Holocaust survivors.

“Our grandmother was a hidden child of the Holocaust, and she is part of a minority of survivors still living 80 years after World War II,” said Benji as he opened the conversation, which took place over Zoom and was available to the entire Upper School. “We are very grateful and proud of her as she dealt with hardships at a very young age. We are sharing her story to bring awareness to the atrocities endured by the Jews during World War II and also the antisemitism that endures today.”

Pear and Schwab told wrenching stories of fleeing and hiding from the Nazis as they struggled to survive. 


Similarly, middle school students hosted Holocaust survivors Jerry and Ellen Kaidanow in the Performing Arts Center. The couple were joined by their daughter-in-law, also named Ellen Kaidanow, who moderated the event. 

As he introduced the family, Head of Middle School Josh Deitch said the family’s story is one of several shared through the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center’s Survivor Legacy Education Project, an interactive database to record the oral history of Westchester Holocaust Survivors for use by teachers with their students.

“We have the privilege and responsibility to receive stories and memories and we have the responsibility to hear from people whose experiences are different from our own, and it is a privilege we should never ever take for granted,” said Deitch.

As the younger Ellen Kaidanow took the stage, she underlined the importance of sharing these stories.

“Holocaust stories can be sad and tragic, and they are hard to listen to sometimes, but there is also a lot of beauty in them and a lot of inspiration for you to take away today,” she said, encouraging students to remember and draw courage, hope, and empathy from the stories she shared.

The significance of these conversations amid rising antisemitism and the aging population of Holocaust survivors made them especially powerful, according to teacher Lindsey Rossler, in whose class Alex and Benji hosted the discussion with their grandmother.

“I am very proud of them for taking the lead,” Rossler said. “For students to realize how close this history is to the present and to our own community makes an impact. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of a community that prioritizes history, humanity, and community in this way.” 

This is the second year that Miki Pear has told her story to the King community. Alex hosted her while in Rossler’s class two years ago, and his brother joined him in hosting her this year. Alex said that he and his brother are committed to doing what they can to ensure that nothing like what happened during World War II happens again.

“These conversations are important to have as a community because they build the foundation for what we stand for as a school,” said Alex. “We are a school that accepts and cares for everybody, and being able to talk about such topics in our school is something we are both very grateful for.”

The brothers were pleased with how the community reacted to the interview.

“Not only did they compliment my brother and me on our courage to step up in a time like this, but also complimented my grandmother for staying so strong to her Jewish identity and never letting anything deter that,” said Alex.