What

We travel straight to the sites of atrocities in Ukraine and implement many of our projects directly on locations of massacres. Our unique approach distinguishes us from other organizations because we conduct work directly on sites where the Holocaust took place. There is a deep distinction between education in a distant classroom and learning directly on location. We work with communities to learn their stories, speak with witnesses and families of Holocaust victims, host commemoration ceremonies on land where killings occurred, and connect stories to their roots to create a profoundly stronger impact on all participants.  We travel to sites of atrocities and we bring there our program participants; we organize educational and commemoration events, and guided trips to killing sites; we create Holocaust museums in schools; we plant long-live metasequoia trees at sites of atrocities as ever lasting memorials to victims, as symbols of strength and triumph of life.

All of our projects fit under the two frameworks:

1. The Forgotten Shtetls

program in which we take multi-national and multi-cultural participants (Jews and non-Jews, from the S. and Ukraine) on educational trips to places of atrocities and old Jewish shtetls. We visit old synagogues and churches and learn about the long and deep history of Ukrainian-Jewish relationships. Our trips take participants off the beaten path, to small villages where none of the participants would ever go if not for this trip. We go directly to the places of atrocities, and we stand directly on the soil of tragedy, to understand what once was and what could have been. These trips have a profound and lasting impact on everyone involved in the program.

 

 

2. The Last Mile

framework stems from a concept known as the “last mile” – a term used to describe the final link of a process. The last mile is often the most difficult to implement, however results in a holistic product. We’ve designed a comprehensive Shoah educational and commemoration framework that focuses on local history.

 

 

 

The Last Mile framework consists of the following steps:

Step one 

Organizing commemoration events and often planting metaseqouia[1] commemoration trees at the killing sites.We host commemorative events throughout Ukraine to spread awareness and honor those killed. Events are hosted directly at the sites of massacre. We have organized events on the anniversary of tragedies in Kremenchuk, Bila Tserkva, Kharkiv, Lubny/Zasulye, Vinnitsa,Piryatin, Mirhogod. Every year our events grow, garner more attention, and draw audiences of local and foreign public officials, Holocaust survivors, Righteous Among the Nations, students, and media.

 

 

Step two 

Creating local history museums and exhibitions in schools that are located in close proximity to places of atrocities.

Thousands of Ukrainian communities are built at the sites of Holocaust murder. Residents, particularly younger generations, are unaware of the gruesome history they walk on top of every day. We began in Lubny, where a school sits not far from a Holocaust mass grave. We built a one room exhibition in Zasulye, the local school, presenting Lubny’s and Zusulye Shoah story. Motivated students were selected to become local subject matter experts, and volunteer as museum guides in a yearlong internship. The program encourages students to take an interest in their local history and pass knowledge onto their peers.
After Lubny/Zasulye, we formalized it as a scalable framework that has allowed us to conduct similar work with schools in Kremenchuk, Fastiv, Bila Tserkva, Mirhorod. The museums we create display a lot of local materials, photographs, and include research funded by RememberUs.org. In this way we have empowered schools to take on the moral responsibility of uncovering and understanding local history and disseminating information. We have helped transform communities into ones that are actively remembering.

Step three

In collaboration with city departments of education, organizing and sponsoring educational and commemoration guided trips to killing sites and the school museums. This step includes using created artifacts as on-site educational material and training students to be tour guides.We organize and fund educational field trips for school and college students.  We provide transportation for students to go on guided trips to the museums we created and to the sites of atrocities. We teach students from local schools about the history of their own land.  Students stand directly on the soil of tragedy, to understand what once was and what could have been. Such school year on-going programs have been established in Lubny/Zasulye, Kremenchuk and Kharkiv. These trips have a profound and lasting impact on students.

 

Step four 

All the knowledge we acquire is brought back to the U. S., where we hold educational gatherings at schools, universities, senior and community centers, and summer camps.Educational Sessions: All the knowledge we retain is brought back to the United States, where we hold educational gatherings at schools, universities, nursing homes, community centers, and summer camps. Holocaust education in the United States focuses on Western Europe- primarily the tragedies in Poland and Germany. Few know how far east the war reached and are surprised to hear the lasting impact of the war on these communities. We have hosted a wide range of speakers, including a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, authors, historians, and more. Our seminars have drawn large crowds with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

 


We manage all activities as individual projects organized under our Educate Generations (EDGE) Program or Maintain, Aid, Restore, and Support (MARS) Program. We are hands-on with all of the projects. We do not outsource our work to other charities or businesses. Volunteers add substantial value by helping with project execution.  Our hands-on approach means projects are cost-efficient to maximize donor contributions.


[1] The story of rebirth and survival of metasequoia trees is evocative. Metasequoias were first discovered in fossils at the beginning of 1940s and the trees thought to be extinct. However, a few years later a small Redwood plantation was found in China. At first, the new plantation was wrongly identified as sequoias – another species of an ancient redwood. Around 1948 it was confirmed that the new discovery was in fact a close sequoia’s relative, and as such was named “metasequoia”. Since then metasequoias have been reborn – the trees have been cultivated and brought back to life all over the world. Those trees are real survivors – they can withstand harsh weather, fires and lightning. It is expected to live a more than a 1000 years, as its closest sequoia relative. The story of rebirth and survival of Jewish people is equally amazing. During the 1940s the Jewish population was dramatically reduced. In the years following the war, Jewish people planted their roots all over the world, adapted and learned how to excel in various places, and enriched the local cultures. We think that there is a symbolic analogy between both stories, which we want to reveal by planting metasequoias at places of massacres. The metasequoias will outlive us, our children and grandchildren. We are planting these trees to commemorate victims and also to be a symbol of strength and survival and a triumph of life.