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Students Visit U.N. for Holocaust Remembrance 

The Loomis Chaffee students sat about six or seven rows back in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York, witnesses to a unique history lesson as the U.N. observed International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. 

The event on Friday, January 26, included multiple speakers, from U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to two sisters, Edith Tannenbaum Shapiro and Selma Tannenbaum Rossen, who survived the Holocaust.   

“All of the speakers were really interesting,” sophomore Aster Conway-Reppert reflected. “I think the ones that spoke to me were the two sisters. It was so heart-wrenching; they told us there were 1,000 people in their town who were Jewish, and after the Holocaust there were 100. There were only four kids, and they were two of the kids left. I have a twin brother and to think about that ... They said their dad wrote them a letter as he was getting older saying if they had been caught by the Nazis, their parents would have poisoned them with cyanide so they would not have to go to the death camps. Just the thought that the parents had to think about that and then the children had to know it — it was a lot.” 

The trip for the group of Loomis students was a joint effort of the Norton Family Center for the Common Good; the History, Philosophy & Religious Studies Department; and the Jewish Student Union. While in New York, the group also took a guided tour of the Jewish Museum. Faculty members Matt Kammrath, the Keller Family director of the Norton Center; Lillian Corman, the associate director of the Norton Center; and Eric LaForest, head of the History, Philosophy & Religious Studies Department, accompanied the students on the trip.  Funds from the Rubenstein Family Holocaust Education Fund (Richard ’65 and Lea Rubenstein) supported the trip. The fund supports the education of Loomis Chaffee students on the horrors of the Holocaust.   

Matt said the goal of the day and the use of the Rubenstein Fund was to “engage students in a hands-on way, in real time, ... and the great part was this was student-led. They helped us plan everything, they helped guide how they wanted the day to go, and it was meaningful for them to see their ideas put into action using the funds.” 

 One of the students who helped plan the event was sophomore Shane Lischin. 

“The journey began as a small group of students brainstorming how to effectively utilize the Rubenstein Fund for Holocaust education,” Shane said. “We wanted to create something impactful and educational, not just for ourselves but for our peers as well. Through extensive research and discussions, we realized the importance of experiencing history beyond our LC campus. 

“Our big breakthrough came when we connected with a UConn professor who guided us toward the U.N. and its Holocaust Memorial event. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring our learnings to life. We also thought it would be beneficial to visit the Jewish Museum in NYC as part of our learning to further enrich our understanding with a broader historical and cultural context. What started as an idea quickly gained momentum as we collaborated with the Norton Center for the Common Good and Mr. LaForest. Their support and guidance were instrumental in turning our vision into a reality, and they worked quickly to plan and coordinate this trip.” 

Students who went on the trip besides Aster and Shane were senior Andrew Dao, senior Luke Daugherty, junior Eli Krasnoff, senior Nicole Levine, senior Charlie Liss, sophomore Emanuelle Marcus, sophomore Sophie Posamentier, sophomore Sophie Singer, sophomore Eli Somberg, senior Ella Somberg, senior Lauren Sonnenfeld, and senior Mandarin Wallace. 

“It felt like we were part of something much larger than ourselves,” Shane said, “a global community dedicated to remembering the past and shaping a better future.” 

During the tour of the Jewish Museum, some pieces of history were brought out specifically to show the students and to tell the stories behind them — a “very personal, intimate opportunity,” Matt said. The students also shared a meal at a Jewish deli. 

“The museum visit complemented this experience by providing a tangible connection to the history we were learning about,” Shane said. “It was a powerful reminder of the Holocaust and the resilience of those who suffered through it.” 

Shane said the trip was one of his most memorable experiences as a Loomis student, and it “reinforced the idea that we, as students, have the power to initiate meaningful change and contribute to important conversations.”  

 


 

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