"Never forget" has new meaning for this fifth grade class


Young-reader appropriate books about the Holocaust are hard to come by. So, when the fifth-grade teacher at Golden Valley’s Good Shepherd Catholic School read the PJ Library book Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, she wanted it for her classroom. 

“Emotionally, it is a hard topic to teach about in the classroom, but vital,” she said in an e-mail to the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation (JCF). “This book seems like a wonderful fit for their age.”  

This teacher was e-mailing the JCF to inquire about a donation of books for her classroom—the perfect opportunity for the organization to play philanthropic matchmaker.  

“This is a wonderful example of how the Foundation connects donors with their philanthropic passions,” said Alene G. Sussman, the JCF Director. “When we heard about the need for help with Holocaust education, we knew the perfect fund to contact.”  

Enter the Ben Rosenzweig Holocaust Memorial Fund. Established in memory of Holocaust survivor Ben Rosenzweig by Rosenzweig’s family, the fund is dedicated to furthering Holocaust education through resources and programming.  After being contacted by the JCF, the Rosenzweig Holocaust Memorial Fund gladly donated books to the classroom. 

“While the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory for many, it very much affected our family, and we believe education of what occurred is more and more important as it fades into the history books,” explains Barry Rosenzweig, the son of the fund’s namesake. Because of this generosity, students at Good Shepard learned a new perspective of the Holocaust—and it inspired them to invite a survivor to their school. 

Students listened with rapt attention as Ingrid Maslow—86 years old and full of spunk—recalled her days at the Belgian convent where she was hidden during the war. Her story, similar to the story told in Hidden, allowed students to connect the book to reality. 

“I learned so much about what it was like to be Jewish during that time,” said 5th grader Robert after listening to Ingrid. Another said it was “an incredible experience for me to meet a Holocaust survivor...I would love to learn more.” 

The Holocaust is something our Jewish community will never forget, but it is more important than ever to keep the stories alive for the rest of the world. As seen at Good Shepherd, even a small spark of curiosity can lead to deeper understanding and bring a little light to a dark world. 

Good Shepherd saw such a wonderful response to the lesson that the fifth-grade teachers plan to create an annual unit around Hidden.  

As Alene puts it, “Even a small financial gesture can have a big impact for years to come.” 

The Ben Rosenzweig Holocaust Memorial Fund is a designated fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.