Arielle Edberg is a fourth generation descendant of Holocaust survivors. She’s part of an oncoming wave of Gen Z Jews becoming active in preserving memories of the Holocaust.
A member of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda and Chabad of Bethesda, as well as a rising senior at The Field School in Washington, Arielle is a member of BBYO. She recently spoke on a webinar roundtable for the Combat Antisemistism Movement (CAM) and Gen Z Jews: Fighting Antisemitism.
What is your family’s history and experience with the Holocaust?
My great-grandparents are first-generation Holocaust survivors. My great-grandfather was from Kozienice, a small town in Poland, and my great-grandmother was from Warsaw. They met and began dating before the war started. They survived together. [The pair ended up as slave laborer in a Nazi bullet factory called Skarzysko.] My great-grandmother escaped [the Warsaw ghetto] to be with my great-grandfather. It’s a sweet love story, wanting to be safe with someone you really like.
Have you always known your family’s history, or do you remember being told?
My grandmother was born in 1947 in a displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany. She and her parents immigrated to America when she was 4. I’ve always known their history. My great-grandparents lived into their late 90s, and I was lucky enough to spend time with them growing up. I heard stories as much as I could conceptualize that at a young age. I remember telling my teachers that my great-grandparents walked through the Red Sea with Moses. I was really close with my great-grandfather. He was always so full of life.
How was it going to a non-Jewish school while learning this history?
I remember last year for National Holocaust Remembrance Day, my history class paused and talked about it. I remember discussing how Jewish refugees were proud to be Americans, even though antisemitism was still here. They hadn’t fully escaped that. It definitely applied to my great-grandfather. He was very proud of the roots that he had set down here and how he was able to have a healthy and safe family.
Tell us more about the webinar you participated in for CAM and Gen Z Jews: Fighting Antisemitism.
I participated in a virtual roundtable discussion where we talked about the experience of being a Jewish teenager while facing antisemitism in the world today. We talked about how young people can fight bigotry. The webinar is available to watch on YouTube.
What’s next for you?
I’m applying to colleges this fall and submitting applications. My grandmother sent information to my dad about an in-person event with Allgenerations, the Holocaust survivor network. Since my dad is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, he decided to go to the luncheon and bring my mom and me along with. It was my first event with Allgenerations. I definitely will go again.