After discovering her family’s own history with the Holocaust and traveling to Eastern Europe in the summer of 2016, College of Charleston Honors College student Samantha Krantz was empowered to bring her experience back to the Lowcountry, with the help of the City of Charleston and our Charleston Jewish community:
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Canton, GA, a small town an hour North of Atlanta. Growing up in a small Southern city was not always easy – I was one of three Jewish children in Canton – but my friends were entirely supportive of my Judaism, even if it was different.
What is your favorite thing about being a student at CofC? Currently, I am a Sophomore in the Honors College, double majoring in Jewish Studies and Public Health with a minor in Biology. I love being at a college with a strong foundation in the Liberal Arts, where students can study the subjects that they are passionate about. The College of Charleston has given me the opportunity to study neuroscience through a research internship at the Medical University of South Carolina, where I study pediatric hydrocephalus. In addition to my commitment to academics, I have enjoyed the opportunity to assume leadership positions with the JSU/Hillel at CofC. As Social Action Chair of the Jewish Student Union, I’ve been enabled to share my passion for helping others and promoting awareness where it is needed. The College of Charleston really pushes each student to their highest abilities.
When did you start getting involved in Holocaust Studies? Though I attended public schools in Canton through the 10th grade, I often had conversations with my parents about enrolling me into the Weber School, an independent, trans-denominational Jewish day school in Atlanta. Despite the fifty miles — each way — that I would have to commute in order to attend my dream high school, my parents consented. In my second year at Weber, I had the opportunity to take a class that added volumes to my Jewish identity. Titled “Process of Hate,” the class focused on the catastrophes of the Holocaust. It was a transformative experience, and one that led me to consider attending the College of Charleston, because of its respected Jewish Studies Program. I felt a deep urge to continue learning about the Holocaust, and after taking two Holocaust courses, I have been witness to over fifteen survivors sharing their life stories. I want to continue telling those stories, so that atrocities such as those committed during the Holocaust are never again repeated.
Tell us about the Klaper Fellowship in Jewish Studies and the Daffodil Project? The Klaper Fellowship in Jewish Studies supports students in undertaking creative, transformative summer projects that advance Jewish life and values broadly conceived, and encourages recipients to utilize their project in bettering the Lowcountry. Following my passion for Holocaust Studies, I enrolled in Professor Ted Rosengarten's Tracing the Holocaust study abroad course, as a Klaper Fellow. One month prior to my departure for Europe, I was researching my family history, and after days of researching, discovered that my great-grandfather was a survivor of Auschwitz, and had documented his life story, and that of his survival, in a memoir. With Prof. Rosengarten’s help, I received a copy of the book. My great-grandfather had never spoken of his experiences during the Holocaust, so my shock in discovering his story was shared by my family. My passion for learning about the Holocaust was further strenghtened as I visited Germany, Ukraine, and Poland with Prof. Rosengarten and students from the College and USC. As I returned back to Charleston, I was eager to share my experiences and add my enthusiasm to the local efforts related to Holocaust awareness.
As a Klaper Fellow, I was now charged with executing a project relating to my trip to Europe, which would benefit the broader Charleston community. I decided to do so by partnering with The Daffodil Project — a worldwide initiative empowering Holocaust education — because I saw it as an effective way to bring the community together. Created by the Atlanta-based non-profit Am Yisrael Chai, the Daffodil Project is dedicated to planting 1.5 million daffodils around the world in memory of the children who perished at the hands of the Nazis.Daffodils represent the yellow stars that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust, and the flower symbolizes both remembrance and resilience. I aspire to build a Living Holocaust Memorial alongside the existing Charleston Holocaust Memorial in Marion Square by planting 1,800 daffodils with members of the Jewish community, my fellow students and other Charlestonians. The planting will be held on Sunday, November 13th at 4:30PM, and each attendee will have a special part in remembering the youngest victims of the Holocaust by placing their Daffodil bulb in the ground. By drawing attention to the memorial through the Daffodil Project, members of the Charleston community can work together to pledge that these victims will not be forgotten.
What can I do to get involved? How can I help? In order to make this living memorial successful, we need the help of the Charleston community. Please join us on November 13th in Marion Square. Brief comments will be delivered by Holocaust survivor Joe Engel and local philanthropist Anita Zucker. Directly following the ceremony, each community member will help place daffodil bulbs into the newly planted flowerbeds flanking the Holocaust memorial. Please aid this effort by bringing a friend, or letting your networks know about the initiative via social media. Together we can make a difference and further ensure that Lowcountry residents and visitors alike may be further inclined to learn about the Holocaust, and its connection to Charleston.
For more information about the Daffodil Project, contact Mark Swick, Community Liaison, Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studied Program, firstname.lastname@example.org
View an article about Samantha and the Daffodil project in College of Charleston Today: http://today.cofc.edu/2016/10/26/daffodil-project-holocaust-charleston/
View the Facebook Event for the Daffodil Project planting here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1473228692704246/