May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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For Yom HaShoah this year, students at The Idea School first listened to the siren in Israel that marks the day and then said tefillot for the victims. They then spent the morning in a yom iyun dedicated to the Holocaust. In four different sessions, students learned about this devastating time in Jewish history through various lenses. Humanities teacher Mr. David Karpel led the students through a timeline of the Holocaust, starting in the 1920s and focusing on the rise of the Nazi party and the political, economic and social conditions that allowed Hitler and his henchmen to take control and ultimately implement the Final Solution. Another history session, led by Tikvah Wiener, honed in on the Nuremberg Laws and showed how the Nazis used law to legally encode the antisemitism and bigotry that were a part of the existing culture.

Math teacher Freidi Hyman told the story of her own family’s survival of the Holocaust, a moving session that personalized the tragedy for the students. Finally, since the date for Yom HaShoah was chosen to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Zach Rothblatt discussed the teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the grand rabbi of Piaseczno, who was taken to the Warsaw ghetto and became one of its rabbinic leaders, arranging for mikveh visits and legal Jewish marriages. When the ghetto was liquidated, he was taken to a labor camp, where he was ultimately murdered by the Nazis. His faith remained strong until the end of his life, but his theological shifts were interesting for the students to learn about: At the beginning of the war, when he was in the ghetto, he placed the Holocaust within the context of other persecutions in Jewish history, but by the later war years, he changed his mind and said there is no precedent for it in the world.

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