Holocaust education in our schools takes various forms. Yeshivat Shaare Torah discovered a program that would educate the students with more than book knowledge. This program would require them to meet Holocaust survivors in person, and to act on behalf of Holocaust survivors.

How would this be accomplished?  Let me introduce you to Mr. Irving Roth, who created the Adopt a Survivor curriculum and built a Holocaust Center on Long Island. Mr. Roth is a survivor of Auschwitz.

It bothered Mr. Roth that not only is there a lack of knowledge of what really transpired, but that Holocaust deniers were becoming more accepted, especially on American university campuses!

One thought led to his decision that he must act. “How will the Holocaust be remembered when the survivors are gone? What will happen on the 100th anniversary of Yom HaShoah?” he wondered.

This year the sixth graders of Yeshivat Shaare Torah Girls Elementary Division, under the guidance of the junior high school principal, Mrs. Devirah Greenfield, embarked upon the journey to Adopt a Survivor, learning life lessons while they learned how to retell their survivor’s story.

The culmination of this experience took place on May 15th whenthe girls presented their projects to their parents and to their adopted survivors.

The dioramas depicting the concentration camps and the towns where the survivors lived, as well as the Nuremberg Laws and Danish resistance, were magnificent. The art teacher, Mrs. Sherry Elnadav, encouraged her students to imagine what it was like during that time period and to put themselves into their artwork. The ensuing portraits, collages, and Holocaust scenes were truly works of Art.

Everyone in attendance went home with a poetry anthology written by the sixth graders entitled, Triumph Over Adversity.  Below are some excerpts:

Place each Poem in its own box – like a sidebar.


By Chaya Cohen

My family,

Has been taken away.

All the yummy, tasty foods,

Have been taken away.

My house,

Has been taken away.

But my Jewish soul,

Will never leave me.

The Colors of Fear

By Bella Saadia

Red – the color of blood and silence,

Orange – the color of my couches before the Nazis came in,

Yellow – the star I wear so they know I’m a Jew and I’m proud,

Green – the parks that I used to go to with my sister Lisa,

Blue – the sky that was once blue has now turned gray,

Purple – the purple mark on my eyes that’s swollen and puffed as if death is speaking to me,

Pink – the pink frosted cupcakes that I no longer have,

Brown – the dark brown coffee that is now dirt and water,

Black – the darkness in my heart,

“My only wish is that my family could have survived.”

Before and After

By Joyce Levy

When I sit by my windowsill,

Staring at those white, fluffy clouds,

It makes me smile.

But when the Germans are here,

I stare at those black, dusty walls in prison.

When I’m outside playing,

In the bright, happy sun,

The flowers dance to me and I dance back.

But when the Germans are here,

I can’t dance back to the flowers.

When I pray to Hashem,

I cry with my heart.

But when the Germans are here,

I cry from suffering.

It Doesn’t Make Sense

By Gail Bagdadi

There’s a big brick barn,

With men in pajamas in the morning,

But it doesn’t make sense,

Why is there a tall metal fence?

There are kids fighting over bread,

In my school that’s not even a rated snack,

But it doesn’t make sense,

It’s just bread, why are they so tense?

There’s a chimney that must be on,

Uh…it’s the summer and there’s the sun,

But it doesn’t make sense,

They should be using the air vents.

The Nazis started a big fight,

And the Jews cannot sleep all night,

It doesn’t make sense,

And it will never make sense.

The survivors were very impressed with the Shaare Torah students. “I enjoyed getting to know such intelligent and refined young ladies, when I met with the girls they asked such thought provoking questions,” Mrs. Anita Weissbord said.

The poetry certainly came from very sensitive hearts.