Saturday, February 16, 2019

Three students at Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy-Upper School in Stamford became filmmakers recently, when they wrapped up a semester devoted to the study of Holocaust history with the production of three documentaries that shed a powerful light on different aspects of the Holocaust.

In working on their individual documentaries, seniors Jonathan Agabbs and Ella Feuerstein and sophomore Joshua Terr were aided by IWitness, a unique program created by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation. Each student created a narrative that was augmented by the first-hand accounts of survivors and witnesses. Through IWitness, the students had access not only to clips of survivor and witness testimonies, but also to voiceover technology.

The result is three compelling documentaries on a range of Holocaust-related topics, including “Anti-Semitism in Europe,” “Diseases in the Ghettos,” and “Auschwitz Behind the Gates.”

The ability to see and hear survivors tell their stories in their own words made the project all the more powerful for the young filmmakers. ”When learning about such a traumatic time in history, it was nice to hear stories of those who survived and those who helped them start again,” said Feurstein of her experience.

Students were introduced to the IWitness program by their history teacher Zach Smith, who first learned of the program while working toward his graduate degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. “These resources make IWitness an unparalleled resource at the fingertips of Holocaust history educators and make these student projects an enriching and immersive experience,” he explained.

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