The pandemic prevented SAE’s Mae Boyar High School in Jerusalem from conducting its annual senior class student trip to Poland to visit sites related to the Holocaust. But that didn’t deter the Boyar staff from planning an alternate examination of the Holocaust in Israel.
As Avinoam Zahavi, a student at Boyar High School, reported, “This year, the journey to Poland that every 12th grader takes part in, has been cancelled!
“Most schools have decided that they are giving up the trip to Poland without finding any alternative. But my school (Boyar High School) decided not to give up, and do something, something that wasn’t done in Israel! To be the first and lead a pioneering force to do so!
“There were two options – either it will be a failure or it will be a resounding success. And yes, not only was it a resounding success, but it was exciting, empowering and meaningful. We didn’t call it ′an alternate journey’ or ‘a journey instead of Poland'”, Avinoam said, “we called it ′’Another Journey’. And it was a different journey from all angles. First of all, it was in Israel, in our country where we grew up, where we were educated, where we went through crises and in a country surrounded by enemies but still standing strong.”
The journey began on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and lasted throughout the week, during which the students met Holocaust survivors, researchers, descendants of Righteous Among the Nations, and volunteered with organizations that support survivors in Israel. Boyar teamed up with a unique organization called “Memory in the Living Room” (Zikaron BaSalon), which aims to train the youth to become “memory agents”.
The trip was built by the educational staff of Boyar High School, together with students at the school, with the Shalach and Yedioth Haaretz division in the Jerusalem District of the Ministry of Education and with the Jerusalem Director of Education.
The journey combined the connection between the Holocaust and the revival of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Among other things the students:
- heard a Zoom lecture by Col. Bam Shaya Charsit, a Holocaust survivor and Air Force man
- met Yoram Chaimi, a member of the Israel Antiquities Authority who participated in the Sobibor excavations to find evidence of Jews exterminated in the camp
- toured the San Simon Monastery with the last offspring of Holocaust families
- distributed flowers at the Yad Ezer nursing home of Holocaust survivors in Haifa,
- met Jaroslava Lewinsky, a Righteous Among the Nations who immigrated to Israel, and more.
“It was a journey” Avinoam Zahavi concluded, “that made each and everyone of us get new insights about our lives, made us realize that nothing can be taken for granted, that everyone has his own story and everyone deals with it differently, one in tears and the other with humor. We learned that after what our people went through during the Holocaust we have two options, one to return in the same situation, or the other to create a Jewish country that rises against all odds!”
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