Cover Illustration, Running from Giants, by Maya Ackerman

Holocaust Education: The Missing Piece

On the last Friday of the month, I am participating in the We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB), in which we share a hopeful or peaceful story about humanity.

This month, I’m sharing this story, Holocaust Education: The Missing Piece, about the work of my new friend and sometime music partner, Dr. Margareta (Maya) Ackerman. I met her in the context of music at church. She sings, I play the violin, and we have performed together in services a couple of times. We’re getting together later today, in fact, to prepare for this Sunday’s service, called Faith and Hope after the Holocaust. We will be performing two Emily Dickinson poems set to music.

In addition to being a semi-professional soprano, Maya is a Holocaust educator and a professor of computer science at San Jose State. She has written a book, called Running from Giants, about her grandfather’s experiences as a child Holocaust survivor. When she speaks about the book, and in this service, the question she grapples with is how he retained his hope and faith after all he endured.

“Maybe this lesson on the strength of the human spirit will encourage teachers to cover Holocaust history more completely, instead of omitting the truly difficult, but essential parts of this dark spot in our history. Maybe, realizing humanity’s potential for resilience, and our capacity for joy and happiness no matter what comes our way, will help students find strength in their own lives.”

Maya and I performing the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria last Christmas, with pianist Libby Kardontchik (at UU Fellowship of Sunnyvale)

Thank you to this month’s #WATWB hosts, Belinda Witzenhausen, Simon Falk, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, and Peter Nena!


12 thoughts on “Holocaust Education: The Missing Piece”

  1. Beautiful performance!

    I think the Holocaust in its entirety should be a subject of study by high school students and up. Both the horrors and the heroism. It’s my belief that to gloss over either would be to distort human nature, and possibly facilitate yet another genocide, or lead people to utterly despair of humanity. The world is too full of both genocides and despair nowadays as it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful video. I wasn’t expecting that strong voice to come out of her mouth! And Karen, you play so beautifully and looked so relaxed. Just lovely! As to the Holocaust info, the one thing I’ve fund curious in all the books (fiction and non-fiction) I’ve read about the Holocaust (and even in my three visits to the museum in DC) is the lack of references to faith. I’ve always found that so strange and wondered why. Even Elie Wiesel wasn’t too forth coming with his feelings about his faith, even in his book “Night.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She addressed that directly in the service today. One way she did it was to have 6 people read 6 different perspectives written by survivors. There were a number of different responses: some people became more religious, some people lost their faith, others stayed the same. Her grandfather, the subject of her book, became an atheist after surviving the Holocaust, and that influenced her perspective.


  3. p.s. Beautiful rendition of Ave Maria! You knocked it out of the park and Maya’s voice is amazing. I loved watching her facial expressions while you played the lead in. You could actually here her singing the words in her head. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The generation that experienced the holocaust will soon be gone. It is good to have their ancestors carry on the messages of tolerance, hope and resiliency so the world doesn’t forget where we were and how we got there. Have fun at the concert!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Now more than ever we need education to be unafraid to do a deep dive into the whole of the Holocaust.

    Beautiful playing and singing … enjoyed it immensely. Ave Maria is one of my eternal favorite pieces of music.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I agree that there needs to be more education regarding the Holocaust, and to present it from the perspective of resilience makes sense to me. Maya’s grandfather is such a good place to start with the education. Also love your performance in the video. So peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

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