The “Names, Not Numbers” program transforms the teachings of the Holocaust by taking it beyond traditional classroom walls and turning it into an interactive, creative, and empowering educational lesson.
Students learn about the Holocaust from those who have experienced it, thus preserving survivors’ stories for future generations. This educational project gives the students a chance to be inspired and come face to face with bona fide heroes. At the same time they also form intergenerational friendships with their interview subjects.
“Names, Not Numbers” offers an integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum, combining research via a custom-made website, interviewing techniques, documentary film tools, and editing. Throughout the project, the students work with professionals—journalists or newspaper editors, a filmmaker, and history teachers—who prepare them for making their oral history film documentary.
Students acquire documentary filmmaking skills, interview and film eyewitnesses, and ultimately create a Holocaust oral history film documentary that will become a permanent part of Holocaust museums and major academic institutions.
The crux of the project is the one-hour film interview that each group of students conducts with either a Holocaust survivor or a World War II veteran. These interviews are then edited down by the students into 15-minute segments and combined into a documentary film.
The documentarian/director films students, teachers, and interviewees throughout the process, includes the student-edited interviews, and produces a documentary entitled Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making. At a culminating event that honors the interviewees and showcases the students’ work, this documentary is screened for the school community and has also been shown worldwide on Kristallnacht, Yom Hashoah, and Tisha B’av.
All of the YUHSG documentary films have been accepted into the archives of the Jewish National and University Library of Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, they are being archived at Yad Vashem and the Gottesman Library at Yeshiva University.
The NNN program was developed by Tova Rosenberg, who runs this program every year.