On March 2, 2019, a group of high school students in Southern California decided during a party to arrange red Solo cups in the shape of a swastika and took pictures of themselves next to the symbol, raising their hands in Nazi salutes. When Leslie White—Holocaust Studies teacher at Tarbut V’Torah and Director of Education at JFCS Holocaust Center—heard what happened, she stepped up to teach the students about the Holocaust and help them understand the significance of what they had done and they symbols they had invoked. White’s account of these events offers educators rich insights into the continuing importance of Holocaust education, as well as the pedagogical approaches that are most effective—and vital—in this time of rising hatred.
After I read the news, I often feel powerless. What can any of us do to prevent genocide, to dismantle structural inequalities, or to stop the other horrors we hear about in the news? The massive scale of the problems in the world can feel overwhelming, but we shouldn’t let it be paralyzing. My own involvement in activism changed dramatically in high school, when a human rights activist inspired me to hope.