“Today is about something that happened a long time ago,” remarked Brianna Shepherd, associate dean of college counseling and adviser to the Jewish Faith and Culture Club, at the April 16 Holocaust Remembrance Assembly. “But sadly, in many ways not much has changed. We are living in challenging times, and so many people are still suffering from hatred, bigotry and injustice. People right here on this Zoom.”
Marking Holocaust Remembrance Day (“Yom HaShoah,” which was observed from the evening of April 7 through April 8), the Jewish Faith and Culture Club invited Holocaust survivor Lillian Trilling to share her moving story with the Upper School. In revisiting the past, they encouraged the community to remain committed to the ongoing fight against injustice.
The students organized the assembly with the help of Samara Hutman (who spoke at last year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day Assembly
) of the Righteous Conversations Project, a local organization that facilitates dialogue between Holocaust survivors and teens. In addition to connecting Crossroads with Trilling, the Righteous Conversations Project provided their short film “A Ship Called Lili: The Lillian Trilling Story,” which pairs Trilling’s memories with student-produced animation, to introduce the 91-year-old survivor.
As she recalls in the film, Trilling fled Warsaw, assumed a pseudonym, escaped the threat of sexual assault, worked in a castle and eventually made her way to America. She later married and became a therapist for low-income individuals in downtown Los Angeles.
Following the film screening, Upper Schoolers asked Trilling thoughtful questions about her experience, why she continues to share her story and her views on America today.
“I want people to understand that we should never judge any human being by their looks, by their nationality or their religion,” Trilling advised her young audience, while expressing gratitude for all the people who accepted and aided her throughout her life.
“We are the last generation to be able to hear firsthand about the horrors of the Holocaust from survivors,” reflected senior Gaby Horwitch, president of the Jewish Faith and Culture Club. “With hate crimes against Jews and other groups on the rise, it is important to be active in fighting discrimination. We must continue to work for increased justice for all people, so a horrific event like this can never happen again.”