Father Desbois spoke to the entire student body and the student body of The Heschel School yesterday at La Salle. Father Desbois, a French Catholic Priest, is the author of The Holocaust By Bullets and the head of Commissions for Relations with Judaism at the Vatican.
He told us first hand of his life’s work of uncovering close to 2 million Holocaust Victims from Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Russia. He connected the dots for us on the tragedies of the Holocaust and the genocide/ mass murders in Iraq, Iran, Mexico and through the efforts of ISIS. “Never again”, he told us, but “never again” is happening now, Father said. He also implored our boys to “find what God’s voice says” to each of them and follow it, like he has tried to do with his work. Today, I listened in the hallways as our kids talked about his stories and his chat with them. Wonderful stuff.
Father’s visit was his first to an American High School, and also marked the launching of our school-to-school partnership with The Abraham Joshua Heschel School. Father mentioned quietly to me that he would like to come back each year and “do something” at La Salle, as he was taken by our boys and our mission. Special guest speakers and “teachable moments” like the one yesterday with Father Desbois are what is increasingly setting LaSalle apart from any other high school in NYC – Catholic, private or public. Our action-based learning core allows for history – literally – to jump off the page and into our boys’ hearts.
The boys presented Father with a collection of 350 notes from every student, thanking him for his work. Special thanks go to the religion department and Ann Straub for putting these books together, as well as to Vice President Ismini Scouras and Mary Anne Glassen for putting this top drawer event together.