The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

The #1 source for news for Dominion High School students and the Dominion High School community in Sterling, VA

DHS Press

Dominion Observes Holocaust Remembrance with Survivor Virtually

Lilly Cameron
During the video conference, Henry Weil encouraged students to talk about the Holocaust and vote for leaders that align with their values.

In honor of Yom HaShoah, National Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish Student Union (JSU) worked with No Place For Hate and Nicole Korsen, former Dominion English teacher, to virtually host Holocaust Survivor Henry Weil on Thursday, May 2 in collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Yom HaShoah, held May 6 this year, is part of the annual week-long observance of Holocaust Remembrance in the United States from May 5 through May 12.

One of Weil’s prevailing messages to listeners was “I don’t hate, but I can’t forget what happened.” During 7th block, Weil shared his experience during the Holocaust and his war against hate to language students in the media center.

When the Anschluss, annexation of Austria, happened on March 12 1938 in Vienna, Austria, Weil was only two and a half years old, and only has faint recollections of being in his apartment with his family and watching German soldiers marching through the streets. “Things became very difficult for the Jewish community [in Austria]; very very strict restrictions were put in place, Jews were no longer allowed to go into the playgrounds, parks, [or] movie theaters, and it was a whole change in our lives very suddenly,” Weil said.

It took Weil’s father over a year to acquire the required documentation in order to leave Austria for America which they received through a sponsorship from a Massachusetts family while Germany enacted anti-semetic legislation that impacted Weil and his family. “We later learned that the ship that we were scheduled to depart on was actually sunk by German U-boats,” Weil said.

After moving to the US, his family visited a chicken farm in Vineland, New Jersey owned by holocaust survivors and met a woman who was cellmates with his father’s sister who informed them that she died in the concentration camp. “When you hear the stories of the survivors… please talk to your classmates, your friends, your family members,” Weil told students in attendance.

President of JSU Jordan Henry said, “I deeply appreciate him just being able to share with us because I know that the there’s plenty of survivors that don’t, they’re not able to, for many reasons, but his bravery and courage to come and speak to us and share his story on a daily basis is is very empowering.”

No Place For Hate, a new club at Dominion this year played a significant role in organizing the event according to JSU Sponsor Jennifer French. The club’s sponsor, Lara Woolley, said No Place For Hate is a program through the Anti Defamation League (ADA), and is designed to be led by a student committee. The ADA provides lessons and goals for clubs to carry out, including a pledge for 80% of the school community to sign.

As a result of his experience with the Holocaust, the law became very important to Weil. He went on to study law at Georgetown University and pursue a career as a lawyer.

Now, Weil volunteers at the National Holocaust Remembrance Museum. “I am so happy to see the interest that some of these students have to come to the museum. When I was in school we never had Holocaust days, and I was just shocked to see and to learn that these students are learning about the holocaust in school,” Weil said.

“Our mission at the Holocaust museum is ‘Never Again’. It’s so easy to say that, it’s just words, it doesn’t mean anything, and what I’m asking of you, the students, is to please discuss this. Tell your friends, your colleagues, and your classmates what you heard from me and perhaps others [and] what you might see from the museum … so that you can try to make sure that this type of thing never happens again…what happens when evil goes unchecked,” Weil said.

According to the JSU club sponsor, Jennifer French, JSU meets every other Tuesday at 8:24 AM. The club celebrates Jewish holidays together including plans to host a Shabbat dinner in the future and aims to collaborate with unions at other schools. “I hope [students] take away just the honestly the forgiveness of it and the understanding that we’re pretty much all the same,” French said.

View the entire conference recording here: May 2, 2024 | A Conversation with Holocaust Survivor Henry Weil.

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Lilly Cameron
Lilly Cameron, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Lilly Cameron is Co-Editor-in-Chief and first began writing for DHS Press in 2020 during her freshman year. She enjoys journalism because it allows her to stay connected to the school and primarily writes news pieces, feature stories, and theater reviews. When she is not writing articles or in dance rehearsals, Lilly enjoys watching the newest movies along with her fair share of comfort films.

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