Teaneck High School has expanded its Holocaust resources, setting aside a Holocaust-focused collection and study area in its library.
This is in addition to the school’s Holocaust center, which is in a room off the cafeteria.
“We are the only place in the world that has a two-floor Holocaust center in a public school,” said Goldie Minkowitz, director of the center and a math teacher at the school.
The center traces its roots to 1975, when the Anti-Defamation League asked history teacher Ed Reynolds to help create New Jersey’s first Holocaust curriculum. The materials he accumulated became the core of the center’s collection.
In 2010, Jeanette Friedman – an occasional contributor to this paper – and her husband Philip Sieradski donated 250 books and DVDs from their collection to the Teaneck school.
The Sieradskis are consultants to the largest umbrella organization of Holocaust survivors in the country, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, and have published and edited many Holocaust survivor memoirs.
A second set of 400 books came from the family of Richard Ores, a Holocaust survivor who was liberated from Dachau and who had been living in Teaneck when he died in 2011.
Recently, the principal of the high school, Dennis Heck, suggested that a wing of the library be repurposed to house the collections.
“We had magazine racks that were not being used the way they should,” he said. “We put them in different areas of the building, and decided this area would be a great place to display the Holocaust books.
“To have those Holocaust books as a resource for research, for projects, is tremendous,” he said.
Minkowitz said the donated books include memoirs, artwork, history, first-person stories, portfolios – everything.
“Our librarian very painstakingly, very efficiently cataloged all of them, got spotlights to put behind them, really took care to display the materials,” she said.
In the wide area in the library now devoted to the collection, half a dozen bookcases line the wall, filled with the Holocaust books. A memorial sculpture sits on a pedestal. Chairs provide space for the students to sit and read.
Minkowitz said the collection is growing.
“We’re just getting more and more offers as the publicity spreads,” she said.
“Three separate groups of people have let us know they have books they will be dropping off, so it’s really exciting. It will mean more and more people will come and use the books, and more people will donate the books they can’t use.”
And the resource is not only for students.
“The community is entirely welcome to come and check out books,” Minkowitz said. “They just have to leave their cell phone number.”