by George J Elbaum
Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity launched its Student Leadership Board (SLB) 6 years ago, and its mission is “Developing Compassionate Leaders through Education and Action. Get involved and make a difference.” Selected through an application process, the SLB this school year (2020-21) consists of 62 motivated and passionate students from 41 schools in the state Washington (grades 7-12), with diversity in backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions, coming together twice a month via the internet to learn, listen, and lead. Through project-based learning, SLB students develop skills for leadership and teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving. At the same time they gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their schools and in their communities. Having committed to the SLB through the end of the school year, student teams work together to carry out meaningful projects that support the Holocaust Center’s mission and provide real-world leadership experience. The students also provide feedback on the Holocaust Center’s other programs and serve as ambassadors.
The SLB is guided by Ilana Cone Kennedy, Holocaust Center’s Director of Education, and for SLB’s November 4 meeting Ilana asked me to participate by having the students review my Holocaust background and prepare questions for an extended Q&A session with me. I readily agreed, since answering student questions is my favorite part of my talks – Q&A allows the students to air their real world concerns, and via the dialogue to consider and hopefully absorb my message of tolerance and compassion vs. prejudice and hate as they mature.
I was pleased by the students’ many questions, some deep and insightful and some simply humane. Answers to questions asked during our online session and also those emailed to me afterwards via the Holocaust Center are listed in the front part of Student Questions (300+ total) category on my website www.NeitherYesterdays.com.