Our Stories

Education and Remembrance on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 21, 2020 by Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

In observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, MILTON middle school students participated in a special ceremony, prayed together, lit candles in memory of victims of the Holocaust, read poems and excerpts from books and essays, drafter their own poems, songs, and reflections. We are sharing a few examples from the students’ learning in their Hebrew and Judaic Studies classes as well as from the special middle school service in which we said tehillim, shared special prayers, and student volunteers lit candles and read inspiring quotes from Holocaust survivors. Thank you to all the teachers for creating these important opportunities for learning, connection, reflection and commemoration.

Song & Remembrance: Penning Original Hebrew Verses

Middle School students in G’veret Cowan and Pinchasi’s Hebrew classes listened to the song “לכל איש יש שם” (Every Person Has a Name) by Chava Alberstein and talked about the importance of remembering people who perished in the Holocaust by name. In commemoration of Yom Hashoah, the sixth and seventh grade students wrote their own verses in Hebrew to build on the song. We wanted to share some of the moving lyrics the students wrote in Hebrew.

Isabel J, Seventh Grader:
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שנתן לו העולם
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שנתנו לו החברים
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שנתן לו הלב שלו
Every person has a name given to them by the world
Every person has a name given to them by friends
Every person has a name given to them by their heart
Maya G, Sixth Grader:

לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם
שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ השמיים
שֶׁנָּתְנוּ לוֹ העונות
Every person has a name
Given to them by the sky
Given to them by the seasons
Micah B, Seventh Grader:

לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם
לכל איש יש ארץ
לכל איש יש בית
זה ישראל
Every person has a name
Every person has a land
Every person has a home

Reflections on visit to Yad VaShem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem

In early February 2020, our eighth graders went on their capstone trip to Israel. The experience was nothing short of transformational, fostering stronger Jewish identities and deepening the students’ connections to each other, their teachers, the land of Israel, and their heritage. As part of their trip, they visited Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Recently, they reflected on their experience at the museum. Below are a few excerpts:

Simon R, Eighth Grader:
I remember the structure of the museum, and how it was designed to force you through the whole museum, back and forth and forth and back. The museum got more cramped and full of stuff, and the size of the individual rooms shrank as you went through it.
Ilana K, Eighth Grader:
The whole museum had one clear path that moved through the years and it was in a zigzag. The first room represented Jewish life before the Holocaust and it was carpeted because it was supposed to feel like a luxury compared to the concrete floors of the rest of the museum. The museum was really focused on the individual people who were affected rather than them all as a whole. There was a display built in the floor showing piles of shoes taken from Jews before they stepped into the gas chambers to show the diversity. There was a room whose walls were covered with books with just lists of names. There was an entire section dedicated to the children who died. There were photos with people’s head shaved so they all looked the same and there was a record of a woman saying she didn’t recognize herself.
Luki L, Eighth Grader:
When we walked through the first building, we saw art by people from the Holocaust. They depicted many different things because no human has the same imagination…As we walked from the first building to the second, there were trees all around the path. The tour guide told us that those trees were planted for every person that helped Jews and other people who were being oppressed in the holocaust. She told us a story of a man who smuggled Jews out of Germany with his wife, ultimately saving hundreds or thousands of Jews. In the end, we went on a balcony facing the nearby city, signifying that even if we are oppressed and attacked, we can still rebuild and continue flourishing.

Learning from the Legacy of Survivors

Sixth graders participated in a Holocaust education program led by Judaic Studies faculty in which the students watched select segments of the survivor testimonies from the documentary “Voices of Auschwitz.” The students then wrote their reflections on the stories they heard, and shared them with one another using Nearpod. We are so impressed with the thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and strength they demonstrated in our learning about this chapter in our history.