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Holocaust Remembrance Day offers opportunity to teach fifth, sixth graders

Posted at 6:32 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 21:06:04-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — On Holocaust Remembrance Day, many young Utahns learn about the atrocity for the first time.

Discrimination and genocide is a heavy lesson plan for fifth and sixth graders at Granger Elementary in West Valley City.

“I feel bad for the people,” said Diego Lopez, a fifth grader. “Some of the people were put into a room and got gassed.”

Lopez is one student just learning six million Jews were exterminated. That’s double the population of Utah.

“It’s devastating,” Blessing Tarley said, also a fifth grader. “I just feel bad for the people and how they got treated."

The school’s PTA collaborated with the World Holocaust Museum in Israel for the exhibit to open a dialogue on the small steps that led to ethnic cleansing in Europe.

“It shows that incredible evil can take place in our lifetime,” Rabbi Sam Spector said. “There were horrible genocides that have taken place since then.”

At the Jewish Community Center Thursday, religious leaders reflected on the rise of violence against people of faith over the last year. Rabbi Spector said it’s up to everyone to have the courage to speak up against discrimination.

“It’s very inspiring to me that we have a generation whether they know directly about the Holocaust or they don’t, that as a society, we are learning lessons from what can happen when there is evil or when we are bystanders,” Rabbi Spector said. “My concern as a teacher is that we do not separate certain people and say you’re lesser than me because you’re not as tall or you have the wrong color eyes, or you are the wrong nationality. That’s how all of this begins."

Students told FOX 13 what lesson they learned from the Holocaust exhibit.

“To treat people the same, to not bring them down when something bad happens,” Lopez said.

“We should get treated how we want to be treated. Everybody is the same, everybody is different and if we are all different we can change the world,” Tarley added.

The “Stars Without a Heaven” Exhibit will be on display for students at Granger Elementary through Monday.