Bear witness to Holocaust survivors’ stories of resilience and strength
Become part of the experience.
2019 performances of Witness Theater
SAR High School
– Watch the performance online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEm3KBityWc&t
– Watch the students and survivors reflect on their time together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkOSGBx1tZg
Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School
– Watch the performance online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNHcCgOLvBs
– Watch the students and survivors reflect on their time together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax323G8lejU
Ramaz Upper School
– Watch the performance online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee_Os75a_Z8
– Watch the students and survivors reflect on their time together: https://youtu.be/1hQcK6cCBAo
These unique live performances are the culmination of months of heartfelt collaboration between our high school students and Selfhelp’s local Holocaust survivors. It is a moving re-enactment of difficult and poignant moments as portrayed by student actors and narrated by the survivors themselves. Witness Theater enables these survivors to tenderly pass their memories and legacies from one generation to another.
This year’s Witness Theater Program is a collaboration of Selfhelp, UJA-Federation of New York, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School, SAR High School, Ramaz Upper School and has received generous support from the Sephardic Home for the Aged Foundation.
In the News
Spectrum News NY1: Students act out Holocaust stories
AMNY: ‘Witness Theater’ pairs students with Holocaust survivors to preserve their stories
News 12 Bronx: Remembering the Holocaust
News12 Brooklyn: Holocaust survivor: Stories of survival are important and should be passed on
News12 Brooklyn: High school students learn of Holocaust survivor’s stories
News12 Brooklyn: Non-profit, students pay tribute to Holocaust survivors through performance
The Jewish Link: Witness Theater Performed at SAR High School
Witness Theater: The Film
Witness Theater: The Film is based upon Selfhelp’s Witness Theater program. Filmmaker Oren Rudavsky, distributor Menemsha Films, and a number of individual and organizational supporters including UJA-Federation of NY, have joined in this feature length documentary that serves as a behind the scenes look at a nearly yearlong relationship between students and survivors.
Witness Theater: The Film provides an opportunity for viewers to learn about a dark time in recent history, and therefore, become witnesses to history. The film shows the love story of Aron and Cipora, two survivors who taught the students to find the opportunities to laugh even in the darkest of times. And Isaac, who inspires us to see the good in others, including the students who “made it okay” for him to share parts of his life that he wanted to forget forever. And Elizaveta taught the students and viewers the power of a smile to give someone hope in difficult times. Ernest says that even at age 95, he considers himself a fighter, and each day, moves forward with hope in family, in love, and in the Jewish people.
This moving documentary, currently shown at film festivals across the country, is about the power of connection, friendship, and love between generations. It is also about healing, to the extent possible, in the context of the most brutal genocide in human history. Learn more about Witness Theater: The Film at www.witnesstheaterthefilm.com.
About Witness Theater
Witness Theater, now in its seventh year in New York, is an innovative inter-generational program bringing together Holocaust survivors and high school students to elicit, expose and memorialize the moving stories of survival. Through a guided drama therapy process, group members explore issues of war, loss and trauma while at the same time forming deep and meaningful relationships that dissolve the barriers between generations.
Students and survivors meet in weekly two-hour sessions over the course of the academic year with a trained drama therapist and other program staff. The project culminates in a staged production: the students portray the personal experiences of the group’s survivors, while the survivors narrate their own stories. The production is performed for the community and the student body in each high school location.
The program aims to involve Holocaust survivors in a therapeutic process designed to help them come to terms with their past, and at the same time to instill the memory of the Holocaust in the next generation. The public performances serve as a vehicle for the survivors’ testimonies to be heard by many and to witness the special connections made between the generations.
Questions? Email our team: email@example.com
Selfhelp operates the oldest and largest program serving Holocaust survivors in North America, caring for over 4,500 elderly and frail individuals. Click here to learn more about Selfhelp’s services for Holocaust survivors.
Witness Theater was conceived by Irit and Ezra Dagan and developed by JDC-Eshel in Israel. It was brought to New York in 2012 by Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. This year’s Witness Theater Program is a collaboration of Selfhelp, UJA-Federation of New York, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School, SAR High School and Ramaz Upper School and has received generous support from the Sephardic Home for the Aged Foundation.
Witness Theater: The Film is distributed by Menemsha Films.