HAFTR Poland mission is set to bear witness


Midwinter break gives both students and teachers the chance to travel to all sorts of exotic places. This year, Rabbi Gedaliah Oppen, HAFTR High School principal of Judaic studies and Rabbi Moshe Hubner traveled to Brooklyn, where they met with Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, director of Project Witness, a Holocaust education resource center.

The meeting allowed Rabbis Oppen and Hubner to explore new ways to enhance HAFTR’s Holocaust studies curriculum as well as the upcoming Mr. Abe Scharf z”l HAFTR Poland Mission. 

Mrs. Lichtenstein, who founded Project Witness, is  editor-in-chief and publisher of the English-language daily newspaper Hamodia and Binah Magazine. She is a daughter of survivors and a granddaughter of the Gerrer Rebbe, Harav Avraham Mordechai Alter, zy”a, who was known as the Imrei Emes, and of Harav Itche Meir Levin, zt”l, the leader of Agudath Israel in pre-war Europe and later in Eretz Yisrael. She is the daughter of Rabbi Yehudah Aryeh Leib Levin, z”l, founding editor of the Hebrew-language Hamodia.

Born in Jerusalem and now living in New York, Mrs. Lichtenstein published Witness to History, an extraordinarily impressive textbook that is part of the Project Witness curriculum. Project Witness is a comprehensive, nonprofit Holocaust resource center that offers academically-grounded and religiously sensitive Holocaust educational resources for communities worldwide. Through Project Witness, Mrs. Lichtenstein hopes to radically change the way the Holocaust is taught in day schools and yeshivot throughout the country.

Project Witness has also produced profound documentaries and other literature to assist educators embarking upon the difficult task of teaching students about the Holocaust. 

Rabbi Oppen describes the purpose of the meeting as follows: “There is always room for and a desire for improvement. HAFTR High School is committed to making certain each student grows intellectually, emotionally and spiritually from the Holocaust Studies course and from the Mission to Poland.The Mission has changed the lives of many students. They gain a new perspective and take great pride in being Jewish, they grasp what was lost during the destruction of the war, they recognize the extraordinary the history of our great nation and appreciate the wisdom of the quotes ascribed to the rabbis whose graves they visit.”

“It was indeed gratifying to see the positive response our description of the HAFTR Poland Mission engendered at Project Witness,” noted Rabbi Hubner

HAFTR is presently finalizing the itinerary for this year’s Mission which will iy”H include, for the first time, the city of Prague. Enhanced by insights gleaned from Project Witness, participating students anticipate a moving and meaningful Poland Mission.