Each year at this time, we commemorate the tragedy of the Holocaust, and also the internal strength of those who resisted and fought against the Nazis. In fact, the official name for the day, selected by the Knesset in 1951, is Yom HaZikaron La’Sho’ah u’La-Gevurah, the Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust and the Heroism.
Throughout the day at Mirowitz, you could hear young voices singing Hannah Senesh’s poem Eli Eli as students came down to light six candles representing the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Teachers created age-appropriate, profound lessons across the Judaic, Hebrew and general studies curricula. They read picture books to spark discussions about the time when Jews lost their human rights, and about the “Righteous Among Nations,” (non-Jews who risked their lives to save them). During a Middle School language arts lesson about arguing a point through rhetorical triangles, they extended the idea to talk about being in command of how you will allow yourself to be convinced of an argument. Students stated aloud the names on each Holocaust memorial candle we lit and scanned QR codes that led to information about a person who perished in the Shoah.
The Pew study released a few years ago revealed that many adults in our community grew up believing that the Holocaust was the defining element of Jewish life. That is not our intention at Mirowitz. We fill their every day with meaningful and joyful Jewish moments. Our curriculum around Yom Hashoah is presented in age-appropriate ways that instill strength. We teach them about the righteous gentiles who rescued Jews, and the integrity of those Jews who fought against the Nazis in ways both quiet and vocal.
Our approach to this important day is to prepare your children to be teens who are committed to moral decision-making. We want them to feel a responsibility toward combating bias and hate.
We are raising each one of them to be leaders who preserve justice, quietly and loudly. And we hope that our students are a living example of our commitment to justice and continuity of the Jewish people.
This Sunday, our St. Louis Jewish community will have a virtual Holocaust Memorial ceremony at 4 p.m. If you would like another moment to contemplate the significance of this day of remembrance, I hope you will join me at the event here.