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After years of being told she “doesn’t look Jewish” or has a Jewish-sounding name, social media sensation Montana Tucker is proudly embracing her heritage with an educational docu-series on TikTok.
Earlier this year, Tucker took a film crew to Poland to capture the story of her mother’s parents during the Holocaust, which has been edited into a 10-part series.
“It’s a responsibility to me and my grandparents and everyone else to do this,” said Tucker, whose series has been watched by millions.
Tucker said, “My grandparents fought for their lives to be Jewish.” The Times of Israel in an interview.
With nearly nine million followers on TikTok, Tucker is known for filming well-choreographed dance segments with artists from around the world. Depending on the scene, Tucker may be co-starring – for example – a boy in Santa Monica, a famous rap artist, or his own mother.
“People are used to my very lighthearted, fun dance videos and seeing me work with so many different people,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s rare for me and my material, and for the platform in general, to have a docu-series on the Holocaust.”
edited into two-minute segments, How To: Never Forget Immerses teens in the history of Nazi Germany’s massacre of six million Jews during World War II. To give viewers hope and encourage them to become “upstanders”, the series also highlights Polish families who risked their lives to save Jews.
@montanatucker I am sad and sick to my stomach with all the anti-Semitism going on in my world. How is hatred towards any religion, caste, ethnicity, sexual preference etc allowed/tolerated?!? My Grandparents Are Holocaust Survivors – 77 Years Later And It’s Still Happening?! • I travel the world to witness the atrocities of the Holocaust and dive deep into my family’s Holocaust survivor story. Sharing his story with you is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done with my platform. Episode 2 is coming on 1st November. Join me in making sure we #never #never #holocaust #education #nohate #jewish #antisemitism #endantisemitism ♬ original sound – Montana Tucker
“This docu-series is very different,” Tucker said. “It’s not like reading a history book. We didn’t have a script. It’s authentic and real, and what I’m feeling and seeing is what the audience is feeling and seeing.”
In more than two decades of working in show business, Tucker has regularly encountered instances of antisemitism.
Typically, people ask Tucker if he is “really Jewish”, based on his looks and his name, and in recent years, Tucker has garnered thousands of TikTok followers for posting about his family’s Holocaust story. have lost
Tucker said, “You’re trying to make us feel bad for the Jews,” which was typical of the negative comments posted in response to her Holocaust-related video.
Earlier this month, Tucker was attacked online after NBA star Kyrie Irving was stood up for his antisemitic post.
After Irving used Twitter to recommend a documentary filled with anti-Semitic sarcasm, Tucker demanded an apology from the basketball player and learned about the Holocaust through his family’s story.
Commentary [people posted] Were pretty scary,” Tucker said. “They don’t know any better, a lot of people who look up to someone like Kyrie Irving. That’s why it’s so dangerous.”
The release of How To: Never Forget coincided with the 10 days leading up to Kristallnacht.
Eight years ago, Tucker visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright Israel trip. Although he was already proud of his Jewish identity, participating in Birthright took Tucker’s engagement to a new level, he said.
“It was like a family there. You have this crazy connection right away,” Tucker said. “I absolutely need to go back.”
Much of her Jewish identity comes from her Holocaust-surviving grandparents.
“My grandparents were my everything,” Tucker said. “It was very important to them to be proud to be Jewish. My sister wore a pin that read, ‘Never again, never forget.'”
According to Zach Jaffe, her tour guide in Poland, during filming, Tucker was completely immersed in learning about her relatives’ lives before the war and during the genocide.
Jaffe told The Times of Israel, “Montana is deeply attached to her grandparents, both as Holocaust survivors, but also as role models in her life whom she cares deeply for.” “It was an amazing experience to go through those stories with someone at that level who has obviously been so formative in her life.
“A particularly moving moment was being able to find seven members of her extended family who had been murdered [the former death camp] Belzec, whom the family didn’t know existed,” he said.
On social media, Tucker is known for her anti-bullying stance and involvement with artists with disabilities, for example. An accomplished recording artist, Tucker’s most popular song called Be Myself is an anthem for anyone who has ever been bullied.
In recent interviews, Tucker has described his week in Poland as the most rewarding, but also the most challenging, experience of his life.
The visit’s emotional epicenter came at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Tucker’s grandmother saw her parents for the last time. They were among one million Jews killed in the gas chambers at Birkenau, including hundreds of thousands of children.
“With my mother, I stood where her mother last saw her parents,” said Tucker, who spoke about the incongruity of visiting Holocaust sites in Poland.
“It was shocking to me that it is such a beautiful country,” Tucker said. “many of these [killing sites] Houses and apartments were surrounded by buildings, people were living their normal lives.”
In a meeting that does not appear in the docu-series, Tucker meets a Polish man who has been the caretaker of an abandoned synagogue for decades.
Tucker said, “He learned Hebrew on his own to take care of it.” “He’s done it for 20 years and said he thinks if he doesn’t do it, no one else will.”
All in all, the arrival of Tucker’s docu-series couldn’t be more timely. With anti-Semitic attacks and incidents in the newspapers, the series is exposing the consequences of hate to teenagers left unchecked.
“For young Jews and young people everywhere, Montana is fostering a real sense of pride in who you are and where you come from through the series,” said Jeff.
“It’s our responsibility,” Tucker said. “The series is opening people’s eyes and showing that you can do well on social media too.”
Times of Israel
Follow Montana Tucker on TikTok and Instagram using the handle @montanatucker