High School Students Learn About Holocaust from those Who Were There

In order to perfect their roles in an upcoming play, Yeshivah of Flatbush students are paired with survivors willing to recount their experiences during World War II.

The annual Witness Theater

The names of the concentration and death camps, given in Hebrew and English, all arrayed around the Eternal Flame. Photo courtesy of Mrbrefast.

program brings several of the high school’s seniors together with one of eight Holocaust survivors in order to conduct research for their end-of-year performance. The students and the witnesses meet once a week, and it benefits the students, the survivors, and ultimately the audience watching the play.

Survivor Ernest Biederman lost his brothers and sisters during the Holocaust, and his wife of 68 years just last year.

“I lost my wife this last year, and it was very sad for me,” Biederman said. “I came here and feel like I’m alive again.”

The students portray those survivors’ stories more vividly as a result of their personal connection with them.

“I have brothers and sisters that I lost when they were their age,” Biederman added, referring to the students he mentored. “It’s been more than 70 years, and I never forget them.”

The Witness Theater program is organized by Selfhelp Community Services, and will culminate with a performance at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)