By Emily Drooby
There was deafening silence in a Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School classroom as students listened to stories of Holocaust survivors.
While in most schools the Holocaust is just part of the history curriculum, at the Brooklyn Catholic high school it’s a semester-long class.
Ameer Brown, a student at the school, lives in Brooklyn surrounded by Jewish neighborhoods but still doesn’t know any Jewish people. This class has helped him understand the religion and its history better.
“We have to remember it so we can do better in the future,” said Ameer.
“It just teaches me to be a better person and recognize what other people go through because sometimes life can be tough but it’s about what you’re willing to give, what you’re willing to put forward, your best foot,” he added.
That’s what teacher William Mason was hoping for when he created the semester-long class five years ago.
“We talk about the fact that the Holocaust is officially over but anti-Semitism is still with us, we see it more and more recently,” he explained.
According to the New York City Police Department, the city saw a 26 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2019.
“We want the students to be warriors against this,” said Mason in response to the uptick. “We want them to not stand by and watch this happen. I mean, Elie Wiesel said one of the worst things you can be is a bystander, never be a bystander.”
The class is a senior elective offered in both during the fall and spring semesters. In it, students are learning lessons they never knew, and now will never forget.
“The fact that still to this day there’s still bodies buried underground in Germany and that they dehumanized Jewish people and just looked at them differently,” is something students like Giovanni Wilson reflect on.