May 9, 2024
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May 9, 2024
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Moriah Commemorates Yom HaShoah

This has been a particularly challenging year for the Jewish people, as we watched the horrors of October 7 perpetrated against our brothers and sisters in Israel and experienced growing antisemitism in our own backyards.

As always, Jews around the world have shown their fortitude and resilience. Our response to terror, evil, hatred and attempts to destroy us, is to double down and continue to build with determination, with devotion and with a sense of unity.

In the midst of tragedy and challenge, our community has strengthened its resolve to support Israel, demonstrate pride in our heritage, and build a strong Religious Zionist community in Englewood centered around our community day school— The Moriah School.

In this current climate, the promise to “never forget” has never felt more urgent. But more so than never forget-—we must continue to share stories and truths, to look beyond words and take action and, most importantly, to continue to educate this generation and every generation of Jewish and non- Jewish students alike.

This year, Moriah’s Yom Hashoah Program helped to fulfill this very promise.

In preparation for Yom Hashoah, the Moriah Middle School students completed the learning of six Mishnayot in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Upon entering the Beit Knesset for Tefillah, six yahrzeit candles were lit to honor the six million victims of the Holocaust.

Each grade held a dedicated learning of two additional Mishnayos with relevance and connection to Yom Hashoah. Following davening, a student representative from each class shared these important lessons to keep in mind as we commemorated Yom Hashoah and remembered all those who were lost in Holocaust.

Later in the morning, eighth grade students from Walter T. Bergen Middle School returned to Moriah to join their eighth grade peers in a collaborative learning experience.

After participating in Moriah’s Kristallnacht program last November, these public school students once again sat side by side with their yeshiva peers to connect in an important conversation around antisemitism.m.

Seventh grade students joined as well for the shared candle lighting ceremony and to hear directly from Esther Elefant, a Holocaust survivor.

Esther Elefant, a Moriah great-grandparent, openly shared her memories of her childhood in Romania and her journey to freedom. She told of being a young girl who was beaten by a neighbor solely for being a Jew. Her family was split up and forced to hide. When asked about her faith in HaShem, she articulated that it is continuous and that it was what her mother and father taught her as a child.

When telling of her enjoyment scrolling through (Instagram?) “Reels,” Esther connected with the young audience. She spoke of what she sees online and shared her dismay as to the state of antisemitism today. She stated: “All of my fears of being a Jew as a little girl have resurfaced now as I am afraid once again.” Her message to the students was to seek the truth, continue to be educated and not allow propaganda and social media to influence them negatively.

Afterwards, the eighth grade students completed a learning activity on justice as it relates to the Holocaust. Some key questions students explored together were: Is it possible to achieve justice for the crimes committed during the Holocaust? Is spreading hateful lies that influence people to harm others a crime against humanity? To end the program, the students discussed modern challenges on college campuses, freedom of speech and the concept of working together.

Students in both schools left the program with an appreciation of the importance of Holocaust education in the modern world. One Moriah eighth grader remarked: “The partnership program with Walter T. Bergen reminded us that as Jews we need to educate others on the atrocities of the Holocaust to ensure these stories are not forgotten or ignored.”

Rachel Schwartz is a Moriah teacher and the Holocaust education coordinator.

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