On Monday, Moriah began Yom Ha’Shoah commemorations with the sounding of the one-minute siren in Israel. Later in the day, our 6th and 7th graders sat riveted as they listened to the personal story of Auschwitz survivor Hannah Wechsler, a magnificent human being whom we interviewed last year for “Names Not Numbers” and who has become Moriah’s “adopted savta.”
Last Tuesday, Moriah’s Holocaust Study Center was transformed into the deep woods of Poland/Russia as members of our 8th grade Yom Ha’Shoah Committee staged three separate presentations of their play, The Forest Means Life, the story of those several thousands of Jews who escaped from the clutches of the Nazis and joined the partisans of Eastern Europe. The authentic costumes, props and sound effects, combined with two on-screen excerpts from the film Defiance, supported the powerfully emotional script written by three of the 8th graders.
A meaningful candle-lighting ceremony, the recitation of Yizkor, and the rousing voices of all of our students singing “V’hee She’amda,” “Esa Eynai” and “Hatikvah” made this one Yom Ha’Shoah to remember.
Kudos to script writers Ezra Finkelstein, Racheli Herzfeld and Hyatt Aronoff; yashar koach to all of our actors; set designers; sound, computer and lighting technicians and candle lighters: Jaclyn Wildes, Jacob Leifer, Emily Ratzker, Hannah Schwalbe, Mia Liebowitz, Yoni Linder, Ezra Finkelstein, Jacob Nayowitz, Evan Zauderer, Julia Blinder, Yanni Shulman, Michelle Benjamin, Lauren Borenstein, Atarah Kaner, Arielle Polinsky, Leah Spielman, Jillian Schiff, Matias Csillag, Zechariah Hahn, David Lewis and Saul Goldstein.
In addition, Ed Lessing, one of the surviving “Hidden Children of the Holocaust,” spent a morning this week with our 5th-grade students. He spoke about the compelling story of his two and a half years in hiding. Mr. Lessing mesmerized the children as he discussed many inconceivable experiences as part of the Dutch resistance when he was a teenager in Holland. Throughout his presentation, Mr. Lessing shared many pieces of his incredible artwork and brought in pictures of his family and friends from that very difficult time in his life. His story was both miraculous and astonishing. It is sure to be a morning the fifth graders will long remember.