New Holocaust Research and Documentary Filmmaking Class at YULA High Schools


Nick Parsons

May 16th marked the culminating event for YULA Girls’ Holocaust Research and Documentary course. For the past eight months, students have been studying in-depth history of Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust, as well as learning how to transmit that knowledge to others.

Instructors Brigitte Wintner and Nick Parsons became proficient with USC Shoah Foundation’s iWitness video database in order to help guide students in creating interactive multimedia lessons and survivor testimonies. Students participated in a blended learning course, meeting during free periods and online to complete assignments and lectures relating to the Holocaust. Rabbi Yaakov Cohen came on board as an instructor and helped paint the picture of religious life in Europe before World War II. The three staff members then took a group of students on a week-long trip to Poland, where they saw first-hand all of the important places they were learning about. A recap of their trip (including photos and videos) can be found at

To help enhance the curriculum, YULA High Schools joined with the program Names, Not Numbers©, an interactive, multimedia Holocaust project created by Tova Fish-Rosenberg. Through this program, students embarked on a journey to interview and document nine local survivors’ stories. Soshea Leibler-Weberman, a YULA parent and former CBS Morning News producer, taught the students interview techniques and best practices for when they sat down with their survivors. The interviews took place the last week in December, and the documentary was completed and premiered to an audience of 400 people on May 16th at The Grove Pacific Movie Theatres.

Throughout the program, YULA Girls partnered with Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH). With the help of Jordanna Gessler, Director of Educational Programs at LAMOTH, students were able to visit the museum many times to deepen their knowledge of the history of the Holocaust. During this partnership, the students in the course became experts on the various museum galleries and served as guides during a school field trip for ninth- and tenth-graders. It was incredible to see the transformation the girls made from students to teachers over the past school year.