by George J Elbaum
Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) is a San Francisco Bay Area social services organization whose mission statement is “Serving individuals and families of all faiths and backgrounds, guided by the Jewish value of caring for those in our community most in need.” As such, JFCS carries a special responsibility within the Jewish community for reaching out to children, the aged, those with special needs, and for the resettlement and acculturation of refugees and immigrants.
Among its many services, the JFCS provides the facilities and educational programs on the Holocaust for visiting teachers, adults, and student groups. My presentation today was to students participating in JFCS’s Next Chapter program, as I’ve done in past years. The Next Chapter is an introduction to the history of the Holocaust for 9th through 12th graders, in which they can develop a connection with Holocaust survivors. Because of the current pandemic, students meet via Zoom every 1 – 2 weeks from December through May and hear from different speakers through the course of the program. By learning to recognize the value in others’ stories and experiences, students learn to appreciate their own story and identity, as well as gain moral courage and a sense of social responsibility. Students thus build a special community of social responsibility and genocide awareness, and may be awarded up to 20 – 30 hours of community service.
My talk was arranged by Penny Savryn, JFCS Holocaust Center’s Program Coordinator, and managed by Yedida Kanfer, Director of Community Education, who introduced me to the audience and conducted the Q&A session. To add some visual interest to the text, I had asked Yedida to take a screen shot of the audience as shown on Zoom in a matrix of thumbnail photos as I’ve done in my Zoom presentations. However, Yedida had a surprise for me: after thanking me for the talk and telling the audience that she would be taking their photo while they applauded, she asked them to unmute their microphones so I could actually hear the applause! First-time ever by Zoom – thank you, Yedida!