Remarks from Ms. Lisa Guggenheimer, faculty advisor for Names, Not Numbers at NSHA, given at the film’s premiere on June 15, 2017.
Eli Weisel stated, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. Not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are responsible for what we do with those memories.”
It is almost one year ago that Mr. Weisel passed away. After surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp, being sent there when he was 15 years old, Wiesel spoke out in a time when many Holocaust survivors remained silent. His wife, Marion Wiesel said: “My husband was a fighter. He fought for the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and he fought for Israel. He waged countless battles for innocent victims regardless of ethnicity or creed. But what was most meaningful to him was teaching the innumerable students who attended his university classes.”
This was my second year coordinating the Names, Not Numbers program, a program that strives to follow in the footsteps of Eli Weisel and educate the world about a horrific time in our history by sharing the stories of the survivors themselves. With each story I hear, I grow increasingly more passionate about how critical it is to continue telling the stories of the Holocaust, our collective story.
First and foremost, I would like to thank Rabbi Acobas and the administration for providing me this precious opportunity. We were fortunate to be able to rely on the well known author and journalist, Dan Paisner, to teach effective interviewing skills to the students and to Brandon Pro for invaluable lessons in the areas of cinematography and documentary film making. I would be remiss if I did not also mention and thank Tova Rosenberg, the program’s creator, and the Names, Not Numbers program sponsors, a prominent national foundation, for allowing me the honor of representing the North Shore Hebrew Academy in this incredibly important project and supporting our efforts this past year. I would also like to thank my colleagues and all of the staff at the North Shore Hebrew Academy Middle School. And, last but definitely not least, I would like to thank my family, for always being there.
Both the students and I are forever grateful to the survivors: Christopher, Michael, Anne, Felicia, and Kurt, all of them extraordinary human beings. Only as a result of their fortitude, their willingness to share the fullness of their experiences both horrific and wondrous and their trust in us, is the world now going to have knowledge of the atrocities they witnessed and experienced as well as their remarkable message of tolerance and solidarity with the world. They each hold a special place in our hearts.
To the students, I must say how incredibly proud I am of the dedication responsibility and attentiveness you each exhibited from the first day we embarked on this effort. You approached every step of the process with a maturity and commitment well beyond your years.