Friday, November 20, 2009

Anne Frank - The Whole Story + Jewish Holocaust Museum = Teens Off The Couch

While Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown's latest tomes might be on your teen's holiday reading list, Anne Frank can give these best-sellers a run for their money. In Anne Frank: A Diary of a Young Girl, the young author's description of being thirteen captures readers with the same heart-stopping directness today that it did when we raced through it decades ago. In fact, the original film adaptation (based on a popular stage play) was produced fifty years ago and has just been re-released on DVD. Our kids found ABC's 2001 mini-series, Anne Frank - The Whole Story more compelling, for it portrays Anne's entire life with equal weight given to her childhood, her time in hiding, and the end of her life in the concentration camps. (An added bonus is Ben Kingsley as Otto Frank). Although the subject matter is tough, our kids loved Anne from her book because they are aware that despite the difference in country, culture and time, Anne was just like them—interested in movies, boys, and clothes, while frustrated with the adults around her. That frustration with parents extends to knowing that such horrors as the Holocaust have happened in their world, so a visit to a Jewish Heritage Museum helps kids to see how one person can effect change. At the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, our teens pored over a few Anne Frank artifacts, and then took an intense, guided tour through an interactive exhibit that simulates being in a concentration camp. (This is not an adventure for young children!) To resenstitize our teens, we attended a talk by a Holocaust survivor who is alive because the woman who found her hiding in a barn chose to give her food and a jacket rather than call the Gestapo. Our excursion allowed us to share our closely held values with our teens on topics that remain relevant today and hopefully will help to cultivate righteous values and actions in our lives. (Click here for links to the best Jewish Heritage museums around the US, and to learn how Hilary Swank's Freedom Writers is related to Anne Frank.)