By Meghan Durkin ’21

On April 13, Pingry’s annual Holocaust Assembly brought to life critical issues of the past and their relevance in society today. Actor Marc Spiegel performed a one-man play entitled Time Capsule in a Milk Can. In 2003, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum produced the play to commemorate the the museum’s tenth year since opening.

The play follows the story of Emanuel Ringelblum, an activist and Jewish man living in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Jewish community’s genocide in Germany. He, along with fellow Jews, recognized the importance of the preservation of their words, accounts, and documents during the systematic killing of millions of Jews.

Throughout the play, Ringelblum sat at his dimly lit desk, collecting and formulating a plan to ensure the safety of the historical documents he gathered during his time in Warsaw. Ultimately, he and his fellow activists decided milk cans were the optimal method of storing and hiding the documents due to their ordinary, unassuming nature. During each phase of the plan, students were asked to read parts of the different documents, making the play a truly interactive experience.

After the performance, students lit 12 candles, representing the six million Jews killed, along with five million others in Europe who fell victim to the violent hatred. Alexandra Weber (IV), one of the students who participated in the assembly, appreciated how the play “was able to find a great balance between making the assembly educational while also making it personal and sentimental.” She believes “it is a humbling reminder of how lucky we are to live in the world that we live in today. Hearing stories of people’s courage, bravery, and perseverance through such a difficult time always inspires me and, I hope, the rest of the Pingry community.”

As the faculty member overseeing the coordination of the Holocaust Assembly, Director of Community Service Mrs. Shelley Hartz chose this play because she wanted an “interactive, more personal and real” way to remind the community what happens “when people hate and people are afraid.” Ultimately, her goal was “to have conversations after and delve into how and why it is relevant today, insuring genocides don’t occur.”