Winners named in JCC’s high school Holocaust poetry contest
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Winners named in JCC’s high school Holocaust poetry contest

The Journey Home by Yasmine Guedalia wins prize

The Abe Oster Holocaust Remembrance Award was presented Sunday night at the Kaplen JCC’s Yom HaShoah ceremony. It honored poems written by high school students that best conveyed the lessons learned from studying the Holocaust.

The first place winner was The Journey Home by Yasmine Guedalia, of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, NY. The poem is reprinted below.

The runner up was Then and Now by Tsipora Shteingart (Ma’ayanot Yeshiva
H.S.)

Honorable Mention:
Shimmy Liebling (Torah Academy of Bergen County);
Zachary Margulies (Torah Academy of Bergen County);
Lily Spechler (Northern Valley Regional H.S.);
Nicole Mizrachi (Northern Valley Regional H.S.);
Gabrielle Frankel (Bergen County Academies)

The Journey Home by Yasmine Guedalia

As the woman walks home, she turns a corner and sees a vibrant town:
Shopkeepers yelling from their windows for business,
Women cooking challas for Shabbat,
And children of all ages running home to greet their families.

As the woman walks home, she turns a corner and sees a solemn area:
A brutally quiet town with no storekeepers,
A place empty of people and of happiness,
A village that has transformed overnight.

As the woman walks, she turns a corner and sees barbed wire:
Administrators yelling instructions from a watchtower,
Women cooking dinner for the officers,
And children of all ages running to deliver wood to a barrack.

As the women runs, she turns a corner and sees smoke:
A group of trees clumped together blocking her view,
A neighborhood with windows covered by ash,
A scream heard in the distance.

As the woman walks home, she turns a corner and sees a house beaming with virtue:
Parents giving shelter to children who aren’t their own,
Righteous women cooking for the hungry who haven’t eaten in months,
And children of all ages who can finally rest event while hidden under floor-boards.

As the woman sits at home, she turns on the television and sees a denier:
A man claiming that atrocities had been misconstrued,
A leader saying that buildings had been built for a show,
A public figure announcing that people hadn’t actually died.

As the woman sits at home, she turns off the television and contemplates:
People were compared to animals but were treated worse than that,
Women were separated from their friends and their families,
And children of all ages were torn from their innocence.
So how could it be that it didn’t happen?

As the woman paces, she turns on a light and ponders:
A house now stands where millions of people had died;
A park and a short-cut to town now stand where mass graves of a labor camp reside;
A sculpture now stands where people were stripped of their clothes and moments later stripped of their lives.

As the woman takes a deep breath, she turns on her computer and reads about a massacre:
Houses torched and belongings looted
Women robbed of their dignity and raped in front of their family,
Children of all ages brain washed to run from home and go to war.
A place empty of people and of happiness,
A village that has transformed overnight.

As the woman leaves her home, she turns a corner into the darkness and wonders:
Hoe many more families would exist today if 100 more people had followed their conscience and saved their neighbors?
How many more families would exist today if 100 more people lobbied to stop the genocides in Darfur, in the Democractic Republic of the Congo, and in Burma?
How many more families would exist today if such evil hadn’t planned to erase
an entire religion and every person who was different?

As the woman strolls underneath the ominous evening sky, she recognizes:
Today there needs to be more houses beaming with virtue:
More people who are not afraid to stand up to raise awareness,
More people who will grab the government’s attention,
And more people who will put these murderers to a halt.

As the woman leaves the darkness, she walks into the light, and finally sees:
Friends learning from the past and working together to put an end to the world’s horrors,
Women proudly cooking challas for Shabbat, and rejoicing in their religion
without an ounce of fear.
And children of all ages shipping food, so other children can one day also happily run
home to greet their families.

As the holocaust survivor is greeted by the sunrise of a new day,
She turns a corner into her home,
And no longer wonders who will tell her story when she is not there.

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