Teaching My Child About the Holocaust & Pink Cupcakes [BOOK RECIPE]
Good Evening Friends!
I hope you all had a wonderful day. Today’s post is a bit of a story. As a Reform Jew, I wondered how I would explain to my daughter about the Holocaust. But let’s rewind the clock to when I was 13 years old. I was in the 8th grade living in Atlanta, Georgia. Being in the Deep South meant that although Atlanta was a mecca for Southern Jews, there was still a feeling of being in the extreme minority. My English teacher back then announced that for the upcoming literature unit we would be reading an excerpt of “The Diary of Anne Frank”. I had recently been to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and I was appalled that our class was about to “gloss over” such an important historical event that changed the course of Judaism for all time.
So, at 13 years old I approached my teacher: “May I put together a lesson plan and teach the unit to my peers?” I asked her. She was surprised, but thankfully, gave me permission. I worked my tail off pulling together resources, pictures, music, and a game that was eventually approved by several teachers before I taught it in class. All day I taught back-to-back classes. My peers heard music from Germany. They saw maps on concentration camps, and I even made yellow stars for certain students to wear, while others had white bands of swastikas on them. We did a simulation of how Jews were singled out to be killed for their looks, age, weight, or simply…. just because. My peers were stunned. A lesson was taught, and 180 of my fellow 8th grade peers became more educated, more knowledgeable, and more tolerant.
Now the lesson plan was far different. I had to look into my daughter’s big, blue eyes and explain to her why 8 million Jewish people…. people like her…. were killed in the Holocaust. I waited until she was 11 years old, because I wanted her to be mature enough to understand. “But Mom” she asked, “Why didn’t anyone speak up? I don’t understand!”. I had put “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry in her hands and asked her to read it. She read it cover to cover in nearly one day. We ended up having a long talk about how good, kind-hearted people can get roped into doing bad things when brainwashing is involved. How entire countries can grow fearful of standing up for what’s right. But everytime we educate another person about the atrocities that occurred from 1939-1945 across Europe…. then we declare: never again will we let this happen!
Kristi sighed as Annemarie went to the breadbox in the kitchen. “I wish I could have a cupcake” she said. “A yellow cupcake with pink frosting”. Her mother laughed. “For a little girl you have a long memory,” she told Kristi. “There hasn’t been any butter, or sugar for cupcakes, for a long time. A year, at least”. “When will there be cupcakes again?” asked Kristi. “When the war ends”, Mrs. Johansen said. She glanced through the window, down to the street corner where the soldiers stood, their faces impassive beneath metal helmets. “When the soldiers leave”. (Pages 9-10, “Number the Stars”)
It’s so easy to take things for granted. Tonight I watched my daughter mix and bake these cupcakes. There isn’t a recipe to it, really. Just a box of yellow cake mix, a bit of vanilla frosting, and some pink food coloring. They aren’t the most elegant cupcakes, but what they symbolize means everything: freedom. We are free to go to the store and purchase any groceries we desire. We are free to indulge in sweets if we choose. In doing so, I feel thankful to be living in 2019 in a country that is democratic and free. We are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty… and justice… for all. Have a beautiful night everyone. ❤