Knowledge is power.
My mission is to educate others about these incredible memorials, because change happens through groups of individuals who are passionate about a cause, as I am about this cause.
So when I was approached with the opportunity to speak to middle school students about the Stolpersteine project, I accepted the task without a hint of hesitation. I went home already planning my presentation… I couldn’t wait to share my story! I was told that my work with this project and my public speaking mission had inspired the religious school students to incorporate these incredible memorials into their “Mitzvah project”. This is when 7th grade students prepare for their Bar/Bat-Mitzvot by volunteering for something that they are passionate about and giving back to their community. I was honored that I had impacted these students and that they had chosen this as their service project.
At the religious school, I spoke to large groups of students about everything; from what the foundation and basic task of the Stolpersteine project is to what makes this project so special. I described my initial discovery of the memorials, and how it changed me as person, setting something so impactful on myself (and others) in motion. I displayed photos from my research in Europe and the unexpected information I had discovered, such as the Anne Frank family stones. Finally, I shared my message of why this project is so meaningful, and how well-known it is in Europe, but not in America.
Once I was finished with my presentation, I spent some time answering their questions about the project and my involvement in it. I assisted them in researching families that had stones placed and we learned their stories. I also shared some artifacts from the Holocaust that I’ve collected through my research, to engage them further in the topic. I had an amazing time working with them and educating them about something that means a lot to me.
Most importantly, I feel that it is necessary to share this information to children who represent the future, as well as individuals old enough to donate to the project, because they will be the ones to enact real change.