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Acceptance, Tolerance & Diversity Are Focus Of Student Driven Holocaust Production

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida high school students are taking part in a unique theater project that has them writing, producing and performing an original play of their own creation.

It’s a pretty impressive accomplishment, made even more so by the subject matter. The show uses the Holocaust as the foundation of social hate and reflects on current injustices, bullying, stereotyping and intolerances while encouraging acceptance, tolerance and understanding.

It’s called “Generations” and the students taking part in this Holocaust Impact Theater production, most of them from Coral Reef Senior High School, were remarkably poised when CBS4 Anchor Rick Folbaum recently attended their final dress rehearsal before opening night.

Maybe it was because the audience was filled with their moms, dads, grandparents and siblings, but also in attendance was Rick’s guest, David Mermelstein, an 88-year-old South Florida resident and Holocaust survivor. Mermelstein was part of the CBS4 Special “March of the Living” in 2012 when CBS4 accompanied him and two other survivors to the concentration camps in Europe where so many marched to their deaths.

The play begins in Nazi Germany, as Hitler’s rise divides families and friends.

Act two shifts to modern day, and the continuing struggles of some to accept those who are different.

After the curtain call, Mermelstein is recognized and asked to come up and speak. He has a tough act to follow, but he’s used to telling his story.  He’s been sharing his survival story for years.

Mermelstein worries that the story will stop being told. “Look at what’s going on today,” he told Rick. “I was asked if it could happen again. ‘That’s up to you, your generation,’ that’s what I tell them. To see that it doesn’t happen again.”

Ruth Gordon is the Education Director of Holocaust Impact Theater.

“These are the kids who get it,” said Gordon. “They understand the importance of acceptance and tolerance and diversity.  They’re the ones who get it. They’ve got to teach it.”

Coral Reef junior Luis Colli is the play’s director.

“These situations that have existed in the past are existing right now and even though we have taken great strides to end them, to make them less common, they still exist,” said Colli.

So what did Mermelstein think of the play?

“Oh beautiful.  Beautiful,” he said. “Everybody was clear and they knew what they were talking about.  I liked it.”  Rick liked it too!

Holocaust Impact Theater’s production runs again Friday and Saturday night at the Alper JCC in Kendall at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are still available online or at the door.

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