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North High Students Preserve History through Names, Not Numbers

Participants in the North high Names Not Numbers project are photographed during a Zoom meeting

Students in the Jewish Student Union Club at North High School are creating Holocaust survivor documentaries as part of an international program known as Names, Not Numbers. Through this year-long project, students learn about the Holocaust, record interviews with survivors, and preserve history for future generations.

Fifteen students started preparing for the project earlier this school year under the direction of faculty advisor Hanna Bokhour, a Hebrew language teacher at North High. Jewish Student Union Club members and Ms. Bokhour were recently joined by Principal Dr. Dan Holtzman and Names, Not Numbers founder Tova Rosenberg via Zoom to record the first of several sessions for the project.

During the Zoom meeting, Dr. Holtzman, Ms. Bokhour, and Ms. Rosenberg spoke about the importance of the Names, Not Numbers program and provided an overview of the documentary process, which will continue over the next few months.

The 15 North High students will work in three teams of five students. Each group of students will meet with a different Holocaust survivor currently living in Nassau County or Queens. Ms. Bokhour partnered with the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County to find survivors to participate in the project.

Leading up to their interview with the survivor, students will work with a professional journalist to develop their interview skills. Students will conduct research, prepare questions, direct and film the interview, and edit the footage to create a documentary telling the survivor’s story.

Throughout the process, students will also record their own experiences for a second documentary that will tell the story about how they created their oral history film. This mini-documentary will be entitled, “Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making.”

Names, Not Numbers is an international oral history film project that preserves the first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans. These documentaries will serve as a bridge between the survivors and future generations. Video documentaries are housed in major libraries and Holocaust museums and centers.