Heights High basketball team meets Holocaust survivor
The new Heights High varsity basketball coach, Michael Cruz, wants to provide both physical and social-emotional training for his team. That is why he partnered with Heights High "Lessons of the Holocaust" teacher Mark Sack to plan a Nov. 29 team visit to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage's Stop the Hate exhibit, and a meeting with 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Stanley Bernath.
“For the team to meet with Mr. Bernath was a real honor,” said Sack. “We do not have many Holocaust survivors left, and I knew that he could share his stories and tell the team about the dangers of hate and indifference.”
Bernath shared his story of survival during the Holocaust and offered advice to the students. He told the young men: “Believe in yourselves; never, ever give up, no matter how bad things look. Nobody is better than you and you are not better than anybody else—we are just different!”
He also had a request for the athletes: “Please help erase hatred and help others, because a Holocaust is what can happen when no one helps victims.”
“We were reminded that at any time in history, when good people do nothing, evil flourishes,” said Sack.
During the visit, Albert Ratner, a 1946 graduate of Heights High who played on the basketball team, stopped in to say a few words about his experiences as a teenager during WWII.
Ratner is a successful businessman, well-known philanthropist and strong supporter of public school education. He gave his fellow hoopers credit for taking the time to come to the museum to learn, and he wished them well in the upcoming season.
At the end of the visit, Sack reminded the team that, on any given day, any of them might be a victim, a perpetrator, a bystander or an "upstander."
“I hope that if you see and hear about the dangers of hate and indifference," Sack told them, "that each of you will have the knowledge and the courage to be an upstander."
Joy Henderson is the parent/community liaison for Heights High.