By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Thousands of Oregon students experienced a special holocaust education virtual performance on Friday.
It was put on by a woman whose mother was the only member of her family to escape the Nazi’s “Final Solution.”
“Gangs of Nazis roamed the streets. They smashed windows of Jewish business and homes. They burned Jewish books and Torahs,” said Mona Golabek, author of Willesden READS. “Lisa stood by the window waiting for her papa. Then she saw him. The Nazis were beating him. They were forcing him down on his knees, making his scrub the filthy street while they laughed and yelled ‘Juden schwein.’ Jewish pig.”
Friday afternoon, author and virtuoso concert pianist Mona Golabek shared the true story of her mother, Lisa Yura – the only member of her family to escape from Vienna to London on the Kindertransport before the Nazis began putting Jewish people in concentration camps.
“That night the hostel was bombed. Everyone had to go live somewhere else,” Golabek said. “What would happen to them now?”
Robert Kaiser, a 6th grader at Portland’s Jackson Middle School and fellow student Brennan Robb co-hosted the virtual event.
“I can see how important these stories really are in learning about history and from history to help us right now with issues happening right now in our schools and communities like discrimination and those fighting against it like the BLM movement,” said 6th grader Robert Kaiser.
The duo asked questions submitted via chat from students across Oregon. It was open to all schools, but it’s unclear if any local schools participated.
The event was hosted by Portland Public Schools and The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg started the project to preserve testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.
“Look at what we’ve gone through as a nation with the COVID. Coming together, trying to help each other,” Golabek said. “My mother would say find the relevance today about how we have to bring ourselves together and not separate ourselves.”
New legislation requires Oregon schools to teach about genocides, though instructional materials specific to the Holocaust aren’t expected to be in place until 2025.