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Friday, November 15, 2019

Elizabeth—Innovative educator Joel Glazer, author of It Happened in My Classroom, has, for many years, run a unique Holocaust education program with his classes at Bruriah High School for Girls. This year, Glazer has added a brand-new component to the program, taking it beyond education to taking action.

His students will be raising funds to donate to the organization Efrat C.R.I.B. (Committee for Rescue of Israel’s Babies), which is dedicated to helping women who are considering abortion because they lack enough financial resources to raise the child. Efrat provides counseling, medical advice, and financial assistance to supply the women with what they need to care for a baby during its first year, including cribs, strollers, diapers, and other basics. Since 1977, Efrat has saved over 50,000 children. For the sum of $1200, sponsors can bring a new Jewish life into the world.

Glazer is challenging his classes to raise this sum, not by asking their parents for money but by giving themselves and coming up with creative ways to raise funds. Eleventh grader Nurit Esral was chosen head of the fundraising committee, giving the students ownership of their efforts.

Glazer got the idea after he heard about Efrat and what they do. He donated the required amount himself and received materials from Efrat about the baby who had been born thanks to his donation.

“I had an epiphany. I wanted to transition from the museum project to something relevant to the present day, not just learning about the loss of Jewish children in the Holocaust but actually taking meaningful action to restore Jewish lives ourselves. Each student will be able to look back and say, ‘We did this. When we were in high school, we saved lives.’” He added, “If my students remember me for nothing else, they’ll remember this, and I’ll be happy.”

On Tuesday, February 11, the junior class (Class of 2015) opened their World War II/Holocaust Museum at Bruriah (in Elizabeth, NJ). The Museum follows the chronology of events before, during, and after the war, and concludes with a section portraying the creation and history of the State of Israel. The Museum is open to visitors, with students serving as the docents and leading tours of each section.

Everyone in the 11th grade contributed truly incredible Museum displays; many talented students produced spectacular original paintings, sculptures, and other creative and thought-provoking depictions of the events.

“Through all the research and thought that went into creating the Museum, we’ve gained an invaluable perspective on our Jewish heritage and identity,” said Bruriah student Rochel Hirsch, a curator of the museum. “We are all extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to create what we hope will be a fitting tribute to those who perished and those who survived.”

Glazer considers this one of the most important things he is doing as an educator. “I believe this program is unique, to actively engage students in literally saving lives. I hope it will be adopted by other educators as well.”

Please email [email protected] if you wish to schedule a visit of the museum.

By Leah Rothstein