“While growing up in England, I was fortunate to have two amazing history teachers who were just unbelievable. They really got me interested in history. At first, I was between studying the arts and studying history and English, but I also thought about studying law. However, I got engaged and married very young, and I knew that I was going to be living in America so I was going to need a degree. I switched from studying law in Manchester University to studying history and English in Manchester University online. The more I studied history, the more fascinated I became with modern Europe, and as I studied the Holocaust, I realized that this was the topic that I really wanted to focus on. My interest in the Holocaust also came from somewhere else: my mother. My mother, a child survivor, was born in 1943 in Holland. Her parents were the only people who survived from their family, and her mom was the only one out of thirteen children to survive. My mother never really spoke about the Holocaust, but I always pressed her to and its only very recently that she started speaking to me and came to Hillel and spoke to my students about her experiences as well. The Holocaust has always been a personal interest of mine and a hobby. The more I learned and the more I realized that history is really patterns, the more I was intrigued. After all, history repeats itself. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them. After the Holocaust, we said never again, but genocides still occurred. One of my biggest things has always been to teach my students to be upstanders. It was not enough to learn about it. You must learn from it and become a better person, which means if you see something wrong happening, you need to speak out because if you don’t, terrible things will happen as we have seen in history.
– Yehudis Benhamou, Social Studies Department Chair