Heights High School to Commemorate 50 Years of Holocaust Education with Panel Discussion on Current Social Issues


Cleveland Heights High School and the Heights Schools Foundation will host a community event on Sunday, April 16, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm at the High School that will commemorate 50 consecutive years of Holocaust-themed education at Heights High and spotlight the need for ongoing instruction of the curriculum, given the rise in extremism, hatred, antisemitism, and “otherness” in today’s society.

The initial 1973 class, Literature of the Holocaust, was an English course created by Dr. Leatrice Rabinsky, a pioneer in Holocaust education, making Heights High one of the first public schools in the nation to teach teens about the Holocaust. Upon Dr. Rabinsky’s retirement, the social studies department took over the course and transitioned the curriculum into a class entitled Lessons of the Holocaust. That course remains today. Instruction throughout the years has been enriched by meaningful interactions with Holocaust Survivors and class trips to Holocaust sites overseas and museums in U.S. cities. More than 2,500 students have taken the class since its inception.

The focus of the commemorative event is to reinforce the critical importance of universal teaching and learning of lessons from the Holocaust. Current Lessons of the Holocaust teacher Mark Sack, a 1976 Heights graduate and student in one of the initial classes stresses, “As we are currently witnessing a significant increase in widespread hate speech, antisemitism, and violence targeting a wide range of groups of people, we need to nurture compassion and acceptance. Additionally, we need to teach our youth to recognize the signs of extremism and the risks of indifference and inaction to these dangers.”

A panel of experts, including three Cleveland Heights High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame members, will address the disturbing social issues facing us today. Panelists include:

  • Academic scholar Irving Berkowitz ’69, PhD, HOF 2015, the son of Holocaust Survivors
  • Educator and author Karen Zauder Brass ’82, HOF 2021, the daughter of a Holocaust Survivor
  • Anti-Defamation League Facilitator Harriette Watford Lowenthal and
  • Educator and philanthropist Marc Pollick ’71, HOF 2019, a former student and colleague of Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel

These speakers are deeply motivated by the critical societal task at hand:

  • “In a world torn asunder by hatred and divisiveness, Holocaust education has never been more important. As Elie Wiesel has cautioned, ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.’ We must not be indifferent.” — Marc Pollick
  • “Teaching Lessons of the Holocaust, when hatred of those who are different from oneself, demonstrated through bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and sexual orientation discrimination, is necessary because these lessons show hatred is still holding hostage our potential for peace.” — Karen Zauder Brass

The discussion will be moderated by Ken Myers ’76, a civil rights lawyer and former journalist, who participated in the first overseas Journey of Conscience trip associated with the curriculum.

If you are unable to join us in person, please watch the livestream.