Holocaust Remembrance Post

My classes are studying the Holocaust right now in Language Arts, via a read-aloud of The Devil’s Arithmetic and literature circles. My students chose to read a variety of books about WWII and the Holocaust-  T4 a novel, Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow, Boy Who Dared, Under the Blood-Red Sun, Weedflower, Behind the Bedroom Wall, Someone Named Eva, Milkweed, Flygirl, The Green Glass Sea, and I’M 15 AND DON’T WANT TO DIE (out of print) in their literature circles.  

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  To honor those lost in the horrors of the Holocaust and those who survived, we focused on the mantra “never again” in class today.  Using a lesson I modified from The Anti-Defamation League, we explored the meaning of “never again” and the power of individuals to prevent future atrocities from occurring.  My favorite part of the lesson (and one of my favorite parts of my Holocaust unit) is sharing Remedy’s outstanding song, “Never Again”.  It is an extremely powerful song celebrating Remedy’s Jewish heritage and an extremely powerful restrospective of the Holocaust.  Remedy repeats the mantra “never again” over and over.   My students discussed how he uses the repeated phrase to inform people and educate them about the Holocaust, and to show the listener that never again will the Jewish people be victims of such evil and hatred. We also read a short biography of Remedy, learning that writing “Never Again” served as a grieving process for him- Remedy grieves for his great-uncle, who was shot in the back, and the rest of his family killed in the gas chambers.

“Never Again” is an extremely powerful song.  When I begin the song, the silence in my room is deafening.  It starts out with a rabbi reciting the Kiddush and a chorus  of “HaTikvah”, Israel’s national anthem.  The looks on my students faces are priceless when Remedy begins rapping.  (I’m pretty sure they are all shocked that their ancient, 25 year old teacher even knows what rap is)!  They follow along with the lyrics as we listen and the ending chokes me up everywhere.   The song ends with a rabbi reciting the Shema prayer, abruptly stopping with a single gunshot.  Talk about emotionally gripping and powerful.

After listening to the song and discussing it, then talking about what Remedy is doing to ensure that something like the Holocaust “never again” happens, we talked about what we could do, as individuals.  This conversation with my students is always eye-opening for them.  They so often think that there is nothing they can do about important issues.  They’re just kids, they’ll tell me.  But when they see a young rapper, like Remedy, using an outlet like music (and cool music at that!) to educate people, they realize the power of the individual.  And they realize that there are so many ways to prevent hate and prejudice.


Below is a video that shares the song.  Be warned, it does include graphic photos from the Holocaust.

“Never Again” by Remedy is available on Itunes.


never again remedy

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing. I’ll try to pass that on to our 8th graders who are studying the Holocaust. On the note of it being HRD, I have to share that I was in Amsterdam last week and of course visited the Anne Frank House. What an opportunity! One of the tour guides we had remarked that it warms the heart of the older folks that there is a pretty much constant line around the block. He said it shows them that people want to remember and honor. It ensures that the Frank legacy lives on, and in so doing, people continue to learn the horrors of the Holocaust.

  2. I have tried two new things this week! First, I did my first read-aloud ever with my 7th graders (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). We managed to finish it in one week because there was so much down time for our state-wide assessments, and the students needed a quiet activity to fill the time between tests. The first few chapters it was a little challenging to keep them quiet and keep their eyes from wandering around the room making faces. By the time we got a little further into the novel, they were hanging on every word! I could tell they really enjoyed it. It worked perfectly then to try out using “Never Again” (my second new thing!) today to lead a discussion on the read-aloud and lead into our novel unit on The Devil’s Arithmetic that we are starting next week. I appreciate your nuts-and-bolts of the read-aloud post and this post about the rap. The kids were asking me to play it again after it was over!

    We also watched a clip of the Days of Remembrance Ceremony that was held yesterday in Washington, D.C. We watched the clip of the 5 people who aided in resistance efforts lighting candles and being recognized and President Obama’s speech. It is available on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. It was moving stuff. The kids had quite a bit to say about the idea of being a bystander and how it relates to bullying going on in schools (and the recent suicides of students in the news who have been bullied).

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