Pardes Jewish Day School Commemorates Yom HaShoah

On April 18th middle school students at Pardes Jewish Day School participated in a ceremony in remembrance of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Eighth grade students re-told the story of Janusz Korczak, a well-known doctor and author who ran a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw from 1911 to 1942. Korczak and his staff stayed with their children even as German authorities deported them all to their deaths at Treblinka in August 1942. Students completed the story marching out of the sanctuary with Israeli flags just as the children of the orphanage did on their way to Treblinka. Dr. Korczak is honored today at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem with a statue depicting his deep love and protection of the children in his orphanage. (photo below courtesy of Yad Vashem)

Seventh and eighth grade students read aloud poems reflecting on the Holocaust and shared the names of child victims, their ages and hometowns. It was a meaningful and solemn ceremony. In addition six candles were symbolically lit to represent the six million victims of the Shoah. Spiritual live music helped bring an element of emotion to the ceremony, graciously provided by Cantorial Soloist Todd Herzog of Temple Solel.

To close the close the ceremony, students listened to Holocaust survivor and author Dr. Dirk Van Leenen speak about his family’s story of survival. Dr. Van Leenen is the author of a trilogy of books about the Dutch Resistance to the Nazi occupation of Holland: Resistance On a Bicycle, The Americans Are Coming, and The Last Train to the Concentration Camp.

“We want our students to know and not let those precious souls that died in the Holocaust be forgotten. It is also critical that our students understand how this injustice and hatred caused so much harm in the world. By understanding what occurred in the Holocaust, we move forward in creating a more just, loving and caring society,” explained Rabbi Billy Lewkowicz, who serves as Pardes’ Director of Jewish Learning.