Moshe Baran Inspires 8th Grade to Learn from History of Holocaust


Students in Grade 8 this week sat down with Mr. Moshe Baran, a survivor of the Holocaust, a member of the resistance army, and a long-time friend of Sewickley Academy. Before this visit, students had finished their unit in English class on the power of words and Elie Wiesel’s masterwork, Night. They had also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., on their class trip last week.

You will really need to speak with a student to understand the impact of Moshe’s visit. Many students talk about the “light bulb” moment they have when sitting in front of a person who is talking about living through what they have only read about and studied in school. They also talk about the insight and the hope that they feel after spending time with Moshe.

Many students, and families, from Sewickley Academy have felt their lives altered by the visits from Moshe and his wife Malka, who passed away in 2007. Mr. Jeff Lenchner ’77 is among them and we thank Jeff for introducing Moshe to our students each year! You can listen to Moshe’s presentation in the podcast below and read some of the messages students wrote after meeting him. You can also view his blog, Language Can Kill: Messages of Genocide, for more information.

Thank you so much for talking to us. I looked up your blog and it is amazing. Thank you so much. I have tried really hard the last few days to eradicate the word hate from my vocabulary. You have really had a great impact on me. Thank you. – Serena

Your story was very inspiring. It motivates us all to do something about the world peacefully little by little. The message you sent to us about how literature was important will be remembered. – Jeremy

Thank you for speaking to our grade. Your story is really inspiring! – Jill

Thank you very much for speaking with us the other day. I know the time you had was very short but you definitely got your point across. I loved how you hid in the woods for that length of time. I’ve never met a holocaust or ghetto survivor, it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. – Harry

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It was really touching. – Sarah

Thank you for sharing your story, You have set an amazing example of what education can do in your life. – Eiley

Thank you for coming to speak to us! I thought that your story of how you got out of the ghetto and was part of the resistance was inspiring. – Ella

It was a truly life-changing experience hearing from you… I will always look to you as a beacon of hope in today’s dark world. – Aaron

Thank you, Mr. Baran, for coming to speak to us. The story of your life has made me realize that “superheroes”, or people who do things that are considered impossible, like yourself when you escaped from the ghetto, are not just in stories. They are all around us. – Erin

Mr. Baran, it is a highlight of each year to have the privilege of your visit to the 8th grade students. Your willingness to share your personal experience is enriching beyond measure. I have a 6-year-old son, and in honor of you and Malka, I have removed the word “hate” from our household. With eternal gratitude, Deborah Golden

Thank, Moshe, for helping young people take notice where we have come from. We will never forget. You make us look at ourselves, not just at history. Happy birthday! – Jeff Zemsky