KHEC Contest Remembers Children Of The Holocaust The Amud Aish Memorial Museum’s Kleinman Holocaust Education Center division has launched its third annual Student Visual Arts and Literacy Contest, “Born to Live: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust.” Open to students in grades 6–12, this year’s contest focuses on children who lived through the Holocaust and the items they took with them when they escaped or were sent to a ghetto.
There are six items that students can respond to in their entries: the Michelsohn letter, what may have been a father’s last words to his son when he escaped on a Kindertransport; the Lonner Tehillim, a mother and father’s last gift to their son; the Horowitz challah cover, carefully embroidered by a sister who was later murdered; the Kirshner doll, a child’s sole connection to home while in hiding; the Felsenburg wallet, full of receipts from parcels a son sent to his doomed parents; and the Ettlinger shoe from a toddler who escaped with his family.
To enter, students may write a poem or a letter to one of the children—sharing personal connections, observations, and questions, or they may create a work of art reflecting on the child’s life and the cherished item. The deadline for submissions is March 15.
“This year’s contest allows students to see the Holocaust through the eyes of the children who survived. These ordinary objects—a letter, a wallet, a doll—speak of extraordinary circumstances as they were precious to the children who were fortunate to make it through. We invite teachers to book a field trip to our museum to see many of the items we’ve featured in the contest and learn more about what it was like to be a child in hiding during the Holocaust,” said Mrs. Julie Golding, director of education.
The title of the contest, “Born to Live,” is taken from a poem written by Rabbi Moshe Portman when he was in the Šiauliai Ghetto in Lithuania. In the poem, he laments the plight of the youngest victims of the Holocaust and their unfulfilled potential—that they were born to live a full life, but so many young lives would be cut short. This program is presented in memory of the children who were murdered during the Holocaust and to inspire students to fulfill the potential in their own lives.
“Our annual contest is a favorite among teachers because it offers a perspective they may not explore in the classroom. Because Amud Aish is now in possession of significant artifacts and archives from the period—those that help tell the full story of what happened before, during, and immediately after the Holocaust—we are able to create educational opportunities that weren’t available even a few years ago. It’s important that we make these items accessible to students so that future generations can learn about what happened,” said Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, director of Amud Aish.
The contest is sponsored by Meridian Capital Group, LLC, the Jewish Press, and the ArtScroll Library. Students will be judged by grade groups: 6–8; 9–10; and 11–12. Grand-prize winners will each receive a $150 Visa gift card, second-place winners will each receive a $72 Visa gift card, and third-place winners will each receive a $25 Visa gift card. The first 80 participating teachers will receive a copy of The Youngest Partisan by A. Romi Cohn.
The Amud Aish school program in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, accommodates students in grades six and up. School visits are content-rich experiences that support the New York State social-studies standards and align with Common Core Standards. Museum educators provide resources to teachers in advance of each visit to prepare students for the experience and encourage learning beyond the field trip. In addition to a tour of the exhibition and a small-group classroom workshop, students have the opportunity to express what they learned through the tools in the new art workshop. Tours are available in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
The online group reservation system is currently taking requests at www.amudaish.org/group. In 2015, many thousands of children visited the school exhibition program.
Amud Aish is dedicated to documenting the micro-histories of observant Jewish victims and the role of faith within the broader context of the annihilation of European Jewry. It will service the general public and students at its soon-to-open permanent museum location that incorporates the Kleinman Holocaust Education Center, the Orthodox Testimony Project (in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), a document and research archive, and an artifact-collections archive. Amud Aish is active globally through its international division, with current projects in Poland and Belgium and more in development. Amud Aish will open its permanent location in Boro Park, Brooklyn, in 2017. It currently has a temporary facility in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, with future annexes in Lakewood, New Jersey, and Jerusalem. Learn more at amudaish.org and follow on Facebook: @amudaishmm.