By Mara Sonnenschein
If you haven’t had the opportunity yet to view the short film The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm, I encourage you to watch it on HBO or come see it at the Museum. The film plays throughout the day in a new installation that also displays some of the film’s original artwork, created by artist Jeff Scher.
For parents who aren’t sure how to talk to their children about the Holocaust, the film is an excellent way to introduce the topic. The center of the film is the heartwarming relationship between Jack, a 90-year-old Auschwitz survivor, and Elliott, his 10-year-old great-grandson. Along with Elliott’s younger brother Jared, they go on walks, read together, solve jigsaw puzzles. Interspersed with these moments, Elliott, curious about what happened to Jack during the Holocaust, asks Jack questions about his experience.
I watched the documentary with my daughter on Saturday night, when it premiered on HBO. Between my work at the Museum and our family history, she knows about the Holocaust. But watching another child talk about it and ask questions about it helped her process that the Holocaust happened to millions of people, not just members of her family she’s never met.
“I wish our family had a Jack,” she said when the film ended. I think most people who see the film will feel the same way.
For families looking for a time to come see the film and its artwork, Museum admission will be free for families February 16 – 25 (over the winter break for New York City public schools).
Mara Sonnenschein is Communications Coordinator at the Museum.
Scroll through the photos below to see images of the installation, as well as the stars of the film – Elliott, his younger brother Jared, and his great-grandfather Jack – at the Museum.