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Eighth-graders at Clarksburg Elementary School set up displays for Thursday's annual Holocaust exhibit. Studies of the Holocaust have been part of the school's curriculum for more than a dozen years.

Clarksburg Elementary School Holocaust Exhibit Set Thursday

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The students use posterboards to show their research. This year's program focused on Krakow-Plaszow survivor and author Raymond Fishler, who unfortunately died in November. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The 14th Clarksburg Elementary School Holocaust Exhibit mourns the passing of survivor Raymond Fishler and celebrates his life.
 
Eighth-grade English teacher Michael Little said this year's exhibit is heavier than those of the past with the passing of planned speaker and Krakow-Plaszow survivor Raymond Fishler.
 
"To me, it feels like this is a ghost-filled exhibit. The original speaker is not there and yet here it is — his life story is laid out," Little said. "This is really it and time is limited so cherish the time you get with survivors."
 
The exhibit was supposed to take place Nov. 15 and students informed by his book "Once We Were Eight" were busily preparing posters outlining Fishler's life on posters.
 
But a just over a week before the exhibit, Little said he received word that Fishler was in the hospital and was not expected to return home.
 
Fishler died at the age of 93 on Nov. 19. He and his father had been the only members of his family to survive the Holocaust. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 and spent years as a Holocaust educator, fulfilling his mother's charge to tell people what had happened. 
 
"It's been hard. It really knocked the wind out of our sails and we had to rally," Little said. "We thought about postponing it to the spring or just not doing it, but we decided to finish what we started and we are going to do a memorial and celebration of Ray."
 
Little said the students agreed to reach out to Inge Auerbacher, a Terezin survivor who has spoken at the exhibit in the past
 
"He and Inge were friends and Inge had traveled with him in Poland and Germany and they have done speaking things together," he said. "So both of the messages in their books are similar: mend the world, try to make the world a better place after the atrocities that happened."
 
Little said the students will set up their posters in the gym and hold a memorial for Fishler
 
"His life story will be in the gym and it will be a celebration and memorial to his life," he said. "We have done so much work, we have 30 boards."
 
Little said Auerbacher will reflect on Fishler and their time together as well as talk about her own life.
 
He hopes to be able to bring the boards to New Jersey and present them to Fishler's family.
 

Inge Auerbacher, a friend of Fishler's who spoke at the school in 2013, will be the main speaker on Thursday. 
Every year, it gets harder to find survivors and there will be a day in the near future when the only accounts will be in book or video form, Little said. The exhibit will have to change and bring in second-generation survivors.
 
"This is the last of them. There are not many survivors and it is hard to find people," he said. "They are 88, 89 and a lot of them can't travel anymore or are not well enough to speak so we are very limited."
 
Little thinks Auerbacher and Fishler's message will resonate and urged the community to attend.
 
"How we treat each other does matter. Kindness can go a long way rather than hatred. We can make a change," he said. "Like the Torah says — change one soul, change the world entirely. I am hoping we can just change one soul at a time especially in a world that is so unsettled." 
 
The event is Thursday and starts at 6 p.m. at the school with students' work on display. Rabbi Robert Sternberg, a longtime participant in the program and Rabbi Robert Sternberg, professor of Holocaust studies at Westfield State College and American International College, will speak at 6:15 and Auerbacher will speak at 7:30.
 
The event is free and open to the community, but free-will donations will be accepted to help defray costs.
 
Little thanked Robert and Elaine Baum, McLain Electric, Christo's Famous Pizza, Midtown Tax and Bookkeeping Co., Wise Guy Snacks, and Cheshire Elementary School for making the event possible. 

Tags: Clarksburg School,   Holocaust,   

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