Holocaust survivor teaches Riverhead MS students the dangers of antisemitism and hate

A Holocaust survivor visited Riverhead Middle School to give a firsthand account of the damage that can be caused by antisemitism and hate. It comes as the school district works to address multiple instances of antisemitism.

Jon Dowding

Jan 11, 2024, 10:47 PM

Updated 182 days ago


Riverhead Middle School students learned about the impacts of antisemitism, bigotry and hatred from a Holocaust survivor Thursday.
The meeting with students comes months after staff found a swastika in the middle school building.
Marion Blumenthal Lazan survived the Holocaust and wrote a book about her experiences at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.
Over the last 25 years, she's made it her mission to warn about the impacts of antisemitism and hate speech.
"Share my childhood experiences during World War II and above all, make the students, and audiences of all ages, understand the lessons learned from that dark period of our history," she said.
Back in November, staff found a swastika drawn on artwork in the building. Riverhead Middle School Principal Joe Pesqueira says he hopes students can understand the impact one symbol can have after hearing Lazan’s story.
"If we don't learn from history, we're destined to repeat it,” he said. "Being able to connect with the past with primary sources and really someone that experienced it brings it to a whole different level. Her story is captivating, it's powerful, and it's something that I think all students should hear."
Lazan says she hopes students carry on the lesson learned with future generations.
"They are the last generation to hear these stories firsthand and have their questions answered,” she said.
She said there’s an important lesson she learned and one that students should never forget.
"Be kind and good and respectful towards one another,” she said. “That is the basis for peace."
Lazan also told students how they behave and treat one another is entirely up to them.
Swastikas were also found at Riverhead High School earlier in the school year.

More from News 12