Greeley Senior Receives 2023 Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award

Elliott Saiontz

(l to r): Stacey Saiontz, Elliott Saiontz, NYS Regent Frances Wills, Marc Saiontz

Elliott Saiontz, a senior at Horace Greeley High School, has been selected by the New York State Board of Regents as the recipient of the 2023 Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award. The award is given annually for outstanding contributions to teaching about the Holocaust and other violations of human rights.

Since 2018, Elliott has made tremendous contributions on a local, regional, statewide and global basis to educate about human rights and the Holocaust. A then 10-year-old Elliott appeared alongside his 90-year-old great-grandfather, an Auschwitz survivor, in the HBO documentary, The Number on Great Grandpa’s Arm. The documentary uses historical footage and animation to tell a heartbreaking story of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, sharing lessons from the Holocaust with a new generation.

Elliott has traveled - both in person and virtually - to over 55 elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, museums, churches, community centers, and synagogues to screen the documentary and lead a discussion and question/answer session. He has spoken to over 3,000 students, teachers and adults on the lessons of the Holocaust and the importance of stopping hate.

"Growing up as the great-grandson of two Holocaust survivors, Holocaust education has always been a part of who I am," explained Elliott. "Now more than ever, educating on these lessons is extremely important to combat the growing wave of antisemitism worldwide. I feel very honored to receive this award, and hope other students will take it as an inspiration to get involved in the stand against hate."

The Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award, established by the Board of Regents and funded by the late Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner, honors Holocaust survivors, scholars of the Holocaust and human rights issues, and self-taught experts who help to educate students about these difficult topics.