Mitzvah Project Student Comments

2020-22

 

 

“… this type of education could quite possibly change history.” 

    — Lauren, Northgate High School, Walnut Creek, CA

 

“Something I will never forget.” 

    — Miranda, Central High School, Omaha

 

“Mr. Grunwald’s presentation was amazing and inspiring, and it lit a spark in me.” 

    — Carol, Quincy High School, Quincy, CA

 

“If everyone listened to you, the world would be a better place.” 

    — Benjamin, Shaker Heights High School, Ohio

 

“As a young woman of color, the diary of Anne Frank now has more meaning.” 

    — Nayeli, Sonoma State University, CA

 

“I hope your work reaches as many people as possible and has the same impact it had on me!”

    — Abby, Shaker Heights High School, Ohio

 

“Your presentation… was a memorable experience that I will cherish.”

    —  Nanzib, Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

***

As a young woman of color, the diary of Anne Frank has more meaning now. What will stay with me forever is how German soldiers could shoot Jewish people without hesitation. We all need to remember this forever… Mr. Grunwald you are an amazing person for giving us this presentation. You truly impacted myself and others. Thank you. — Nayeli, Student, Sonoma State University, CA

Mr. Grunwald. My father escaped Vietnam at an early age and my mother had a similar experience, emigrating to the United States from China. Your play and the presentation following it have inspired me to learn more about my family’s history. Your devotion to your cause has sparked my belief that if I learn more about my parents’ story, I will learn from their struggles, to become a better person overall. Ryan Thai, Northgate High School, Walnut Creek, CA

 

Mr. Grunwald, your performance was incredible. It was amazing and inspiring, and lit a spark in me to do something in my life and to create something that is important to me. I am so honored to have had the chance to watch it. Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity. Carol, Student, Quincy High School, Quincy, CA

 

Thank you, Mr. Grunwald! What I learned from your presentation is that it's important to advocate for change. Sitting on the sidelines and waiting for change to happen is not enough. The message I got from your wonderful presentation is the inspiration to do more in our society. — Leela, Shaker Heights High School, OH

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, your performance and presentation were incredibly powerful. You taught us things about the Holocaust completely unlike how we learn about the Nazi period in school. As a "Japanese-Hispanic" person, I often think about how meaningless the concept of "race" is. You taught me how categorizing people by their appearance can do so much harm. Thank you so much! — Maira, Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

 

Thank YOU!  Mr. Grunwald, Wow! I cannot fully express how incredible your presentation was. The stories you shared were truly extraordinary, and, as an aspiring actor myself, your theatrical performance was stunning. The connections you made to the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups were deeply moving, and you reminded us all of the importance of love, compassion, and kindness. If everyone listened to you, the world would be a better place. Thank you again. — Benjamin, Shaker Heights High School, OH

 

Dear Roger Grunwald, Thank you for taking the time to share your performance and meeting with our class. I found The Mitzvah Project compelling and thought-provoking. What stuck with me after the performance, presentation, and discussion is how little I was taught in public school about both the Holocaust and slavery in world history. It’s actually quite upsetting and I personally feel that it sets the stage for ignorance today that really breathes life into these movements of hate… It is overwhelming to imagine the suffering and the atrocities that were committed against marginalized groups in both societies. Something I will take away from this experience is a new awareness and perspective about both the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. Thank you very much for your work and your time. — Bri, Sonoma State University

 

Mr. Grunwald, your performance was fascinating. It opened my eyes to so many tragedies I had never really been aware of before. Your personal involvement with the subject matter helped to make it a very driving performance, as well. You are a very talented actor. The pictures you showed, like the one of the tattoo on your mother's arm, helped me put into perspective just how recently this happened. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to write, rehearse, and tell this story, especially considering the emotional burden you must carry. — Steven, Quincy High School, Quincy, CA

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, I was truly enlightened by your performance. I could not imagine being the son of a Holocaust survivor and telling such a painful story. I am glad you were able to. The extreme trauma that survivors faced is beyond tragic. Yours is one of the few voices paying tribute to those who were silenced, making sure they aren’t forgotten. I learned a lot during your time here. The purpose of your outstanding play I feel is to inform our generation about the terrifying madness that erupted in the human heart and that this must never be allowed to happen again. I thank you once again – and many more times thereafter – for visiting us at Omaha Central High School. With Gratitude — Janay, Central High School, Omaha

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald. Thank you! I loved how I was able to learn about the Holocaust by seeing the world through your lens. Thank you so much for your time. You are a fantastic actor! I loved learning from your presentation. It was a memorable experience that I will cherish. —  Nanzib, Brooklyn Technical High School, NY

 

MAZEL TOV, Mr. Grunwald! What an amazing performance you gave in your one man show "The Mitzvah Project". For my National History Day performance, I wrote and performed in a one woman show about Carol Burnett. But watching YOU perform gave me so much confidence in pursuing theatre as a career. The characters that you took on, the embodiment of abstract and complicated roles was flawless. Often times in school, I find material uninteresting but, watching your performance, I was fully engaged. It was more educational for me than any reading. So, THANK YOU! — Grace, Shaker Heights High School, OH

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, thank you for coming to Northgate High School. Events like the Holocaust can feel like a distant memory that could never happen today, but we need to remember that hatred of other groups is really all that’s needed for an event like this to happen again. Thank you for sharing your family’s story and for educating the youth on the Holocaust. It might not seem like it now, but this type of education could quite possibly change history. — Lauren Bausley, Northgate High School, CA

Thank you, Mr. Grunwald! Thank you so much for sharing your family's story with us! My great grandmother was taken from her home in the Ukraine by the Nazis, and your story made me want to learn more about hers. What you said about keeping the story alive - to take action instead of waiting for someone else to do so - really resonated with me especially with all the injustices occurring in the world today. Thank you so much! — Olivia, Shaker Heights High School, OH 

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, Thank you so much for sharing your powerful play with us. It was truly incredible and brought in perspectives about the Holocaust that I had not seen before. The raw energy that you brought to the stage stood out for me most of all. Learning more about the Holocaust has always been important to me because of my personal connections. My grandfather was an Austrian Jew. He and his family were the sole survivors from their village when the Nazis came and spent some years in a work camp before being freed. He moved to the United States following the war. I have a very vivid memory of being a first grader and getting very emotional in class while we learned about the yellow armbands that Jews were required to wear during Hitler’s regime. Thank you again for sharing your performance with us, it was truly phenomenal and necessary. Sincerely, — Jalen, Sonoma State University, CA

 

Thank you, Mr. Grunwald! Watching your creation, The Mitzvah Project, was truly amazing. The thought and creativity you put into the performance made it unforgettable. Hearing about your mother's first-hand experience was eye opening. I'd heard stories like hers before, but hearing it from you, her own son, couldn't have been more personal. You are incredibly strong for being able to share all of this information with complete strangers. From the bottom of my heart thank you! I hope your work reaches as many people as possible and has the same impact it had on me! — Abby, Shaker Heights High School, OH 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, I was really touched and in awe by your presentation. I truly saw and felt the fear that you expressed in your play. And I can relate it to things that I see happening today, like when you brought up the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as being LGBTQ. I don’t quite understand why others hate people because of the color of their skin, or who someone loves, if they aren’t creating any harm. It never made sense to me, and your presentation really touched me. It’s very brave of you to talk about these things, especially to a bunch of strangers. I have gone through some stuff myself that I am still not willing to talk about even with my own friends, so you being able to shed light on that horrible time is amazing to me, and I do hope that at some point I can get there because I know your presentation helped me and I hope my stories will help others as well once I am willing to talk about them. Thank you for your time. — Elsa, Sonoma State University, CA

Mr. Grunwald, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your story. I found not only your mother's Holocaust story very important but connecting the prejudice and injustice we saw in the Holocaust to the U.S. resonated with me. Learning that America’s race laws against black people helped inspire one of the biggest genocides in history really shows how hypocritical America is and just adds to the list of why we need change in America. — Evelyn, Shaker Heights High School, OH

 

Dear Mr. Grunwald, Thank you for your moving presentation. I am very interested in the convergence between activism, art and therapy that you engage with. So many stories don’t fit mainstream narratives and therefore never get told or heard. It’s difficult to find one’s voice, especially anyone who’s felt marginalized. As a woman of mixed African American and Caucasian descent, I often keep silent because of the narratives others try to give me. That’s true of being a woman as well.  I would call it dehumanizing. I liked how you explored nuanced aspects of historical events, realities and experiences that are often reduced to cheap media fodder. You created a fuller picture of the deep despair and destructive human trends still tearing at us along with the planet. I think it’s important to show that ideologies devaluing life have been at work for a very long time, and where that inevitably has led us. — Piper, Sonoma State University, CA

 

Thank you, Mr. Grunwald, for sharing The Mitzvah Project and your personal family history with us. The legacy of their stories lives on and is all the more impactful in your work. I was further struck by the connection you made between the Holocaust and contemporary injustices, such as the murder of George Floyd earlier this year. I feel that this epitomizes why it is so important to understand history - so that we can prevent oppression in present-day society. You have given me a lot to think about! Sincerely, — Mia, Shaker Heights High School, OH

 

Thank you, Mr. Grunwald! for giving me, and my classmates the opportunity to see The Mitzvah Project. I have never seen a show quite like that before. Even though we were on Zoom, and unable to see the show in person, it moved so many people including myself. Hearing your mother's story and learning about her experiences really impacted me. I could not stop thinking about her for the rest of the day and told my family about your story as well. Thank you again for taking the time to give us your presentation and connecting it to current events! I will definitely hold on and reflect back to this presentation! — Seema, Shaker Heights High School, OH

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