For the third annual Amud Aish Memorial Museum and Kleinman Holocaust Education Center Student Visual Arts and Literacy Contest, a panel of staff members reviewed submissions from 1,525 sixth- through 12th-graders’ from 127 schools in 14 states and three countries. The museum used stories of the Holocaust’s hidden children as an opportunity to connect with and teach students.
This year’s contest was called “Born to Live: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust,” focusing on the items children took with them when they escaped or were sent to a ghetto. Students responded to six choices, including a letter that a boy’s father wrote to him just before he escaped on a Kindertransport; a doll that was a little girl’s sole connection to home while she was in hiding; and a wallet full of receipts from food parcels a child sent to his doomed parents. Responses could be written—in a letter or poem for one of the children—or visually represented through a work of art in response to a child’s life and the precious item.
Faigy Israel of Monsey submitted one of the winning entries — a letter sent to Hans Ettlinger about his first shoe, which became a symbol of life and escape. Faigy thought about what Hans’ life was like when he first got that shoe and then when he was forced to leave home. She wrote, “Their shoes symbolize a life that won’t be filled. Your shoes symbolize a life that was filled. I have similar shoes to you.” Faigy included her personal experience visiting Ukraine. “The same steps my shoes were taking, they had taken, too.” She concluded her essay with “And my shoes — they deserve someone to fill them to their capacity. Every morning when I put them on, I pause and think of all those empty shoes. And I think, ‘what can I do to fill my shoes today?’ Because Hans, you and I are alike. Our shoes have someone to fill them.”
Gila Goldman of Ateres Bais Yaakov in Monsey was a first place winner in the visual arts division, ninth and 10th grades, and Faigy Israel, also of Ateres Bais Yaakov, who won first place in the eleventh- and 12th-grade division. Naftoli Moskovitz of Yeshiva Meon Hatorah in Monsey won second place in the ninth and 10th grade division.
“The Holocaust can be a challenging topic to teach to this age group, so when educators can focus on a specific aspect of the Holocaust—such as the experiences of children who survived—in a creative way, children learn more than just the dates and events,” Amud Aish’s education director, Julie Golding, said. “They learn about the individuals who endured. What kept them going? How did they survive? It impacts them on a more personal level—students can connect with these children because they are also children.”
Meridian Capital Group, LLC, the Jewish Press, and the ArtScroll Library sponsor the contest. First place winners will receive a $150 Visa gift card, second place winners will receive a $72 Visa gift card, and third place winners will receive a $25 Visa gift card.