Yom HaShoah: Maintaining Humanity in the Face of Adversity

Jeannette Brod, daughter of Holocaust survivors and a Holocaust educator, recently delivered Taft's Yom HaShoah Morning Meeting talk.

Each year, Taft welcomes guest speakers to campus to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day honors the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and the heroism of survivors and rescuers. This year, Jeanette Brod delivered Taft’s Yom HaShoah Morning Meeting talk. A Holocaust Educator, Brod served as Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Sholom in New Milford for more than a decade. She serves as an Educational Consultant for Voices of Hope, an organization of descendants of Holocaust survivors. 

“My most important identity, Brod notes, “is as the daughter of two holocaust survivors.”

Beginning with a photograph of her mother’s identifying that star German Jews were required to wear between 1939 and 1945, Brod shared her family’s Holocaust story. 

“This was my mother’s star. To me it represents the epitome of othering. Of victimization. Of taking one part of the population and alienating them until they are invisible to everyone else. She kept it in her night table drawer, so what happened during the Holocaust was always with her.”

The gradual erosion of Jewish rights began in 1935, when the Nuremberg laws were enacted by the Nazi Party. The first of the two laws was the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, the second the Reich Citizenship Law, which declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens. Brod shared the implication of those laws for her family—five generations of whom have now been affected by the events of the 1930s and 40s. Some of her story has been gleaned from family letters; other parts shared directly by her mother, a Holocaust survivor who had been a nurse in a Jewish hospital.

“When I think about the hospital now, I think about it as a place where, in the face of adversity, people tried to maintain their humanity,” Brod says.

Some of the letters were written in a code, of sorts. Many of were from her uncles—her mother’s brothers—both of whom died in Auschwitz. 

“The letters tell the story of a family who doesn’t know what is coming.”

Watch Jeanette Brod’s full Yom HaShoah talk here:




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