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