Shoah education at Hewlett HS


Two days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Hewlett High School students received an education on the horrific event with several classes gathered in the building’s library to learn. Mireille Taub, a French refugee who lives in Freeport, shared her story of escaping from Paris before the Nazis took control along with her husband’s tale of concentration camp survival.

Taub’s Jan. 27 discussion was followed by a live, interactive, virtual tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in Poland, as part of the first Holocaust Awareness Day in the public high school.

Principal Alexandra Greenberg invited interested teachers to bring their classes to hear Taub speak. Additional students who expressed curiosity were also invited to participate.

“I wanted this to be a more intimate setting,” Greenberg said.

Taub told her story of leaving Paris with her family, amid  aerial bombing, on a train to Bordeaux enroute to cross the border.

“We get off the train, we’re lucky to be alive, we start walking to Bordeaux,” Taub said.

She showed the shoes that she had worn as a young girl making the trek, with worn down heals. The family stopped 20 to 40 miles from Bordeaux, she said, then boarded other trains to other fascist countries such Portugal and Spain, and eventually taking a boat to the United States.

Taub also recounted her late husband David Taub’s story. He and his brother were in and out of multiple concentration camps and received help from people throughout their journey that led to their liberation.

Junior Aaron Isakov asked Greenberg for permission to attend, because his classes were not viewing the presentation.

“I want to hear more perspectives because we come from the Soviet Union,” Isakov said. “My family, my great grandfather, always told me all his stories, his experience. So, I wanted to see everyone’s different experience and what they shared, what’s the difference, what’s the parallels today to what’s happening.”

Isakov said he found Taub’s story interesting “because when you hear these stories, there’s always some amount of luck and coincidence — the stars have to align in some way for everything to work out.”

“It’s crazy how many lucky things, you can’t plan these kinds of things, opportunities that allowed people to get out and allowed people to live and provide for their families,” he said.

Taub finished her retelling of events by reminding students of an important lesson.

“How courageous must you be to stay alive in such difficult times?” Taub said. “Even staying alive is an act of resistance.”

Isakov said he was inspired by the attitude of Taub and her family.

“They all have strength and resilience and persistence in common, they just keep on pushing through,” he said.

On the same day, Cedarhurst resident and another Holocaust survivor, Fred Zeilberger, was honored by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman at the ceremonial chamber in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola.