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In this challenging time, many parents and guardians are looking online for meaningful activities for their children that don’t require too much prep or too many materials. The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust has posted learning activities geared to a range of ages that guide children how to explore heritage, history, and learning through artifacts.

Note to parents/guardians: This activity refers to the Holocaust but does not go into detail about it. Please use your judgment to decide if this activity is right for your student.

On May 13, 1939 (81 years ago yesterday), the St. Louis set sail from Hamburg, Germany on the way to Cuba with 900 Jewish refugees on board. To learn more and for part one of this week’s learning activity, please click here.

Eighteenth-month-old Judith Koeppel and her parents were among the Jewish refugees aboard the St. Louis, having purchased landing permits for Cuba. Normally, these documents had no fee, but these had to be purchased a corrupt Cuban official at a terribly high price. Like all but 22 passengers, Judith and her family were not allowed to disembark in Cuba, and after the ship returned to Belgium, the family went to France. They hid for more than two years after the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, but they were discovered and arrested. Judith’s parents made the decision to put her under the care of the Oeuvre de Secours Aux Enfants (OSE), a French branch of a Jewish relief organization that was able to hide Judith with a Catholic family.

Click the linked text below to examine this learning activity’s artifacts (both objects: gift of Judith Steel, Yaffa Eliach Collection, donated by the Center for Holocaust Studies)

Artifact 1 | Artifact 2

Take a look at these two artifacts.

1. What do you think this first one is? What language is it in? Is there any information you can learn from it?
2. What does this second document look like? What do you think it was for? What clues do you see that make you think that?

These were the French identity card and ration book for Judith Koeppel from 1946-47, after the war. Judith survived the war, but her parents were murdered in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Judith arrived in New York in 1946 to live with her aunt and uncle.