N.J. Theater Observes 20th Anniversary of Holocaust Education Program

2019-01-15 13:01:15

When Katie Adler was in the fifth grade, she fell in love with author Lois Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning novel, "Number the Stars."

“It was a story of young girls my age helping their friends and Jewish community while having compassion during a horrifying time," said Adler. "It was my first real understanding of what Nazi Germany was like in the time of World War II.

Her love for this story unfurled a series of events that, twenty years later, has helped share this story and the stories of real-life Holocaust survivors with more than 20,000 school children.

For the past two decades, Haddonfield Plays & Players, a theater company in southern New Jersey, has been promoting youth awareness and education about the Holocaust through its groundbreaking "Number the Stars" Community Education Program that was started by Adler and her mother, Kim.

In 1999, Adler discovered "Number the Stars" was going to become an Off-Broadway musical and even auditioned for the lead role of Annemarie. She ultimately missed out on the role when it came down between the South Jersey-based Adler and another young actress already based in New York City. 

"Looking back, it makes so much sense as to why that part wasn’t supposed to be mine," said Adler. "My family was meant to have a greater mission with 'Number The Stars' when my [parents] had the brilliant idea to ask the writers of the show if we could produce it on our own in South Jersey."

And so, the "Number the Stars" Community Education Program found a home at Haddonfield Plays & Players. The musical’s
creator, Sean Hartley, was even in attendance at the first performance.

Over the years, the program has expanded to provide educational resources to teachers and schools that bring their students to see "Number the Stars" at Haddonfield Plays & Players and has included talk-backs with the cast and Holocaust survivors.

Following in Adler's footsteps is twelve-year-old Zoey Blackman, who is assisting a committee of dedicated volunteers in planning an anniversary gala as part of her bat mitzvah project.

"When I was young, I read 'Number the Stars' for the first time and instantly fell in love with the book," said Blackman. "I was in the show for two years at Haddonfield Plays & Players as well. I realized what an awful time the Holocaust was and got so interested in learning more."

The Number the Stars 20th Anniversary Gala will take place April 6, 2019, at the Betty & Milton Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The event will feature a performance of the show with alumni cast members like Adler and Blackman. 

“Holocaust awareness is so important because it teaches kids and reminds adults about a terrible time in history where people were targeted because they were different,” said Blackman. “We must retell the stories from that time so it will never happen again.”

To read more about the "Number the Stars" 20th Anniversary, including survivor stories and sponsors for our gala, view our online media kit.

Quick Facts:

  • Number the Stars Community Education Program founded in 1999 at Haddonfield Plays & Players by Kim Adler. 
  • Approximately 20,000 students have participated in the Number the Stars program at HP&P since 1999.
  • An estimated 15 Holocaust survivors shared their stories with program participants.
  • Twelve-year-old Zoey Blackman is helping with the April 6th Gala as part of her bat mitzvah project.
  • 11% of adults and 22% of millennials (defined as those between 18 and 34), haven't heard of or aren't sure if they've heard of the Holocaust.*
  • 31% of adults and 41% of millennials believe 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust.*
  • 15% of adults think people should be allowed to use Nazi symbols or slogans, and 11% of adults think it's acceptable to hold Neo-Nazi views.*

*Denotes stats from a 2018 study by the Claims Conference and a 2014 global study of Americans from the Anti-Defamation League.

Media Contacts:

Company Name: Haddonfield Plays & Players
Full Name: Emily Brennan
Email Address: Send Email
Website: haddonfieldplayers.com

For the original news story, please visit https://www.prdistribution.com/news/nj-theater-observes-20th-anniversary-of-holocaust-education-program/3985820.