The first place winner of the Upper Division category (10th-12th grade) of our 2011 Youth Writing Contest was EJ Weiss, a sophomore from Kehillah Jewish High School in California. Congratulations, EJ!
with her History Instructor Jaclyn Guzman
EJ's essay starts by talking about what she believes is threatening humanity today - silence. "It is not guns, nor gas, nor bombs that threaten humanity. It is silence," she says.
Using her limited knowledge of her great uncle Shmuel, a Jewish partisan, EJ shows her understanding of the partisans.
Her essay continues, referencing the story of Jewish partisan Sonia Orbuch.
EJ's essay concludes with a discussion of what is happening in the world today.
In addition to meeting the contest's guidelines, EJ's essay exemplified the inspiration between the student and the partisan, which resonated very strongly with the readers and judges.
Reflecting on her experience with the Writing Contest EJ notes, "the Writing Contest has inspired me and given me pride in the relatives I will never meet because they fought against the cruel hand of injustice. I now not only remember the bitter end of the six million Jews, but also the fighting spirit of the forceful resistance. This contest has forever changed my perspective of the Holocaust, my people, and my family."
EJ's History Instructor Jaclyn Guzman adds, "JPEF’s Writing Contest is a perfect match for classes that are looking to transform the lessons of history into their students’ understanding of the world. The essay contest provides a true connection to real people and brings the past to the present for the students. Instead of their writing being removed from and only commenting on the history they are learning, the students are motivated to reflect on and relate with the history. The interactive nature of the essay and the JPEF website mirrors the hands-on history philosophy of my school in which the students are participants and not merely observers of history."
Elliott Felson, co-chair, JPEF Board of Directors commented, "JPEF's Writing Contest allowed me to experience the impact our work has on the kids that are exposed to it. The student's essays were thoughtful, bright, and creative: each one of them, from middle school to high school, spoke from the heart and were moved to make a difference in the world in their own way."