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News & Press: School News

Students Speak at U.N. Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony

Friday, February 7, 2014   (0 Comments)
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Steven Spielberg and Bronx Science Students at the U.N.Why Does Bronx Science have a Holocaust Museum? On January 27, 2014, four Bronx Science students, Sofie Somoroff ’14, Afsara Ali ’15, Kevin Xia ’15 and Bhaavya Sinha ’15, addressed that very question as part of the United Nation Holocaust Memorial Ceremony. The audience included keynote speaker Steven Spielberg, UN Ambassadors, Diplomats and other distinguished guests.

In November of 2005, the United Nations General Assembly declared that January 27 – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp – an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. As part of this resolution, the United Nations encourages Member States to develop educational programs to instill the memory of the tragedy in future generations to prevent genocide from occurring again. 

This year’s theme was "Journeys through the Holocaust" and included remarks from the United Nations Secretary-General, Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Holocaust survivor Rena Finder and filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Our Bronx Science students were invited to speak alongside this distinguished group of speakers!

Our Bronx Science students spoke about the ideals of the School, the importance of the Bronx Science Holocaust Museum and how learning through the Museum is helping to teach tolerance and genocide prevention. Our students were poised, passionate and engaging as they communicated their understanding.

Sofie Somoroff spoke about the importance of students of her generation understanding the Holocaust and how to extrapolate those lessons to atrocities today. She also spoke about the Museum’s scope and the outreach done to invite middle school students from the Bronx to visit the Museum. But most importantly, she highlighted the variety of backgrounds and ethnicities represented at Bronx Science and the importance of learning from your peers.

Afsara Ali highlighted the different artifacts at the Museum and the connections between the Holocaust and the United States. Kevin Xia focused on how the Bronx Science Holocaust Museum is not just focused on the atrocities of the Holocaust but on hope, faith and the healing properties of the human spirit. This focus on people’s lives is very important and a critical lesson for how people who experience these horrors can rebuild their lives.  

Finally, Bhaavya Sinha reminded everyone as to why Bronx Science has a Holocaust Museum – that the lessons of the Holocaust, hatred, racism, murder and genocide are universal. By learning about these difficult topics is our best way to prevent them from occurring again.

All four of the students are in the Holocaust Leadership Honors Class taught by Sophia Sapozhnikov. This elective is one of the most unique classes found in any high school in the world. Students in this course become administrators in Bronx’s Science internationally renowned Holocaust Museum – they are trained as docents, catalog the collection and give tours to alumni and guests. Since the Museum’s inception in 1978, almost 1,000 students have taken the course and worked in the Holocaust Museum. 

As Bronx Science alumni, we should be proud of our students. After their remarks, many members of the audience approached them to commend their work and compliment how articulate they were. Following the event, several UN Ambassadors, diplomats and even Steven Spielberg expressed interest in coming to visit the Bronx Science Holocaust Museum because of our exemplary students.

The United Nations Holocaust Ceremony is available for viewing online. The Bronx Science students' portion begins at 1:25. Watch the video »

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