New Vineland High Holocaust exhibit to be 'teaching tool'
A permanent exhibit to honor Vineland Holocaust survivors was unveiled during a special dedication ceremony in the school's library. Vineland Daily Journal
VINELAND – During a Search for Conscience class earlier this school year, a Vineland High School student wondered how many Holocaust survivors found a home in Vineland.
Instructor Terry Kuhnreich knows a teachable moment when she sees one and they reached out to the Jewish Federation of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland Counties for an answer.
When the organization didn’t have the figure, Kuhnreich told her students, “Well, we’ll find out.”
The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she reached out to her network of families linked by a common horror. She and students began to compile the names to honor those of the past and the present.
“Right now, we have 891 names,” Kuhnreich said, referring to the register from Mrs. Jacob Aaron through Bella and Leon Zylberman.
“This is a living document,” Kuhnreich said, pointing to the framed archive. Additional names will be added as more discoveries are made.
The research project evolved into an exhibit devoted to Holocaust education that includes art and artifacts, pictures and poems stretching a wall's length in the VHS South media center.
Students requested it be named the Kuhnreich/Teichman Media Holocaust Research Center and Exhibit to honor their teacher and her family history. Her parents, Jacob and Marie Teichman, and her in-laws, Arthur and Genia Kuhnreich, are on the Holocaust survivors list.
During the dedication ceremony on Wednesday, Kuhnreich recognized the four Holocaust survivors in the audience – Isadore Randel, Elizabeth Roth, Genia Kuhnreich and Phyllis Dunkelman.
“This is for you,” she said of the research center/exhibit.
VHS Principal Suzette DeMarchi told those gathered she was “deeply moved to stand before people who survived history’s darkest horror.”
She pledged to work with Kuhnreich to “ensure the display becomes a teaching tool, not only for my students here at VHS, but to all students in Vineland Public Schools.”
In a long-established program with the Jewish Federation, students take annual field trips to the Alliance Cemetery in Norma and Beth Israel Congregation synagogue to learn about Jewish culture and Holocaust history.
“Now we are going to bring them to Vineland High School,” Kuhnreich said.
“Look around you, you look at what you see in this audience,” she said directing the attention of the Holocaust survivors to the VHS students in the room. “They will not forget your stories. You will live on. You will live in their memory and their children’s memory.”
Jay Einstein, the Jewish Federation president, commended former Vineland Public Schools social studies teacher Harry Furman, who along with his colleagues Ken Tubertini and Richard Flaim, created the curriculum “used as a model throughout the country and probably the world to teach the lessons of the Holocaust.”
That curriculum, which debuted in 1975, continues to advance and was the genesis for the Search for Conscience elective that focuses on the Holocaust, genocide and social issues related to current events.
VHS senior Tanner Bushman, a Search for Conscience student, helped put together the exhibit set against the image of a brick wall to symbolize the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
“I came up here earlier to look at this, to see it and take it in,” he told the audience. “It really hit me, it was the first time I was able to stop and think about it, it was powerful.”
“We are often taught that hate and violence are our greatest enemies,” Bushman said. “But I think there’s one that is stronger, that’s more ruthless, and that is ignorance.”
The exhibit will address that by “telling the truth,” he said.
“Everyone needs to know about the Holocaust, everyone should know about the Holocaust,” Bushman said. “The more we teach people about the horrors of the past, the more hope we can have for the future.”
After the dedication, Shirley Seiden stepped forward to scan the names searching for her parents – Sabina and Kurt Seiden.
Genia Kuhnreich approached her and they began to talk when a flash of recognition passed across the elder woman’s face.
Looking at Seiden, who is now a grandmother, Genia Kuhnreich said she could see the young girl she watched grow up and remembered her parents. They shared their memories.
When Holocaust survivors settled in Vineland, many were on their own after generations of their loved ones were among the six million Jews murdered.
In their new community, bonds formed beyond bloodlines.
Taking Kuhnreich’s hand, Seiden said, “This is family.”
Seiden, who now resides in a Philadelphia suburb, attended the program wanting to be part of the preservation of her parents’ history.
The next mission for the school-based research center is to create an album containing biographies of all the Holocaust survivors with a Vineland connection.
When that’s complete, Terry Kuhnreich said she plans to expand the project to include all of Cumberland County.
To add a name to the archive or to donate an artifact, contact Terry Kuhnreich at email@example.com.
Deborah M. Marko: 856-563-5256; firstname.lastname@example.org: Twitter: @dmarko_dj
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