Emma Beach (left) and her project (right).
Emma Beach (left) and her project (right).

Presented to youth across the United States in grades 4-12, “Stop Hate! Lessons to Learn from the Holocaust” was designed to teach participants how to use knowledge of the Holocaust to help stop hate in our current society.

For 11 years, Emma Beach has been a member of the Girl Scouts, a youth organization with more than 10 million members worldwide.

The 14-year-old Rochester resident, like many other Girl Scouts, has made it a mission to help make the world a better place — a core building block of the Girl Scouts program. Yet for the teen, who is of Asian descent and grew up in a Catholic family, teaching the lessons of the Holocaust were of utmost importance, especially to other young people her age.

Last year on Zoom, Beach put together a presentation with the help of her mentor, Brenda Rosenberg, an author, former Girl Scouts member and expert in interfaith communication, to share the lessons of the Holocaust with 40 other Girl Scout members. Beach’s project, which took 60 hours to complete, earned her a GS Silver Award, the highest award for her age group.

“I made a project about the Holocaust, what caused it and what we can learn from it,” Beach explains of her work, “so things like that don’t happen anymore.”

Presented to youth across the United States in grades 4-12, “Stop Hate! Lessons to Learn from the Holocaust” was designed to teach participants how to use knowledge of the Holocaust to help stop hate in our current society.

Activities included learning about how Jewish people overcame antisemitism; watching movies or reading stories about children like Anne Frank, who experienced the Holocaust; understanding hate speech; and visiting a local Holocaust museum.

The Girl Scouts were also asked to brainstorm ways to create social change, paint a rock with positive images or words to keep on a desk or drawer as a reminder of being kind to others, and complete acts of kindness for family members or neighbors. Each participant was given a list of activities to choose from and were required to complete anywhere from four-to-eight activities, depending on their grade.

“The Holocaust was started by blaming a group of people,” Beach describes. “I thought that could be used as a lesson and applied to discrimination in our current society.”

In addition to earning an award for her program, Beach says she received an overwhelmingly positive response from participants. 

“A lot of people said that they learned things that they didn’t know,” she recalls.

Teaching the Youngest Generations

It’s a topic that’s especially important for her age group, Beach says, because she feels the Holocaust is not understood in detail.

“They know something, but they don’t,” she says of youth in her generation. “They know what is taught in their history classes, rather than how it started and the facts about what people went through, how they felt and what they experienced.”

To research her project, Beach read numerous books to better understand the moment in time. Rosenberg also helped her gather information and find the right resources. 

“It’s something that’s important to me,” Beach says about the Holocaust. “I want people to know about it, too.”

Teaching the lessons of the Holocaust, however, was the core building block of the Girl Scouts project. “We decided to make it more generic than just about the Holocaust because we’re seeing so much hate going on,” Rosenberg says of the recent rise in antisemitism and hate against the Asian community, among others. “I was very excited to work with Emma.”

Solving Antisemitism and Racism is a Group Effort

Experiencing the “Stop Hate! Lessons to Learn from the Holocaust” presentation left participants moved, particularly Rosenberg. “I was so impressed with this 14-year-old,” she recalls. “She ran a Zoom [meeting] all by herself, presenting this to other Girl Scouts. It was amazing.”

Even the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, was “blown away” by the presentation, continues Rosenberg, who shared the project with people in her network. “They were beyond themselves.”

Though Rosenberg helped guide Beach through the project, she gives all credit to the teen.

“This is really Emma’s work,” Rosenberg says. “To think that a 14-year-old girl wants to utilize the Holocaust to stop hate … that’s so important.”

The biggest lesson to learn from the project, Rosenberg believes, is the power of working together. “I want the Jewish community to know that we can’t solve antisemitism ourselves.”  

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