July 5, 2024
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July 5, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Six burning yahrzeit candles greeted Moriah middle school students as they arrived for tefillah last Thursday, and set the tone for the Yom HaShoah commemoration. At the conclusion of davening ”Kel Malei” was recited in memory of the victims of the Shoah.

After lunch, students at home and in school watched a screening of the documentary “Paper Clips” on Zoom. The movie was introduced by Rabbi Eitan Lipstein who discussed emunah and the role of humanity in a post-Holocaust world. Drawing from the writings of Rabbi Sacks, Viktor Frankl and Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Lipstein stressed the obligation to carry the memory of the Shoah for as long as we, as a people, exist, to find meaning in life even under the most difficult of circumstances, and to recognize the responsibility we have to those lost, and to humanity as a whole. Fulfilling these obligations is what will ultimately help us remember those we lost during this tragic period in our history and continue their legacy.

“Paper Clips” details how middle school students in Tennessee studied about the Holocaust and tried to give meaning to the number “six million” by setting out to collect six million paper clips. It describes their meeting with Holocaust survivors from around the world and portrays the deep relationships that were formed between the survivors and these children, who had no ties to Judaism and no personal connection to the Shoah. The movie illustrates how the experience of learning about the Shoah and honoring each of the lives that was lost, transformed this Tennessee community and created a legacy that lives on.

Upon the conclusion of the film, Middle School Principal Tzipporah Boim displayed an unusual book, published in 2014, which contains the word “Jew” six million times. With its 1,250 pages and 4,800 words per page, the book’s goal is to encourage us to imagine each word as an individual who was lost, each column or page as a community that was destroyed. Like the paper clips in the film, the words of this book are meant to give meaning to the enormity of the loss, and to help us focus on the personalities we are now bound to memorialize.

Classroom discussions followed up on the themes of the movie. The afternoon’s program launched countless conversations about the meaning of Yom HaShoah and each student’s obligation to listen to and retell the stories of that devastating period in our history.

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