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Showing posts with label Sara Fortis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sara Fortis. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 Youth Writing Contest Winners Announced!

We are proud to announce the winners of the Third Annual Youth Writing Contest! From hundreds of entries from around the country - and around the world - three winners in two different age groups have been chosen by a judge panel that includes Jewish partisan William Stern.

This year's contest focused on Jewish partisan women. Students were asked to write about the lessons that can be learned from their experience to inspire people today to make the world a better place. The winning essays discussed topics ranging from bullying to Burma. The first-place winners, along with their teachers, will receive a Kindle Fire.

The winners are:

Lower Division (8th-9th Grades):

1st place:
Breanna, 8th grade, Billinghurst Middle School, NV
2nd place:
Yitzhak, 8th grade, Park East Day School, NY
3rd place:
Micaela, 9th grade, Congregation Ner Tamid, NV

Upper Division (10th-12th Grades):

1st place:
Leah, 10th grade, Kehillah Jewish High School, CA
2nd place:
Joshua, 11th grade, Solomon Schechter High School, NY
3rd place:
Samantha, 10th grade, Duchesne Academy, NE

The winning essays discussed the life lessons of these Jewish Partisans:

We want to take the opportunity to thank all of the students who participated in the contest, and all of the administrators, educators and mentors who encouraged their participation. We would also like to thank all the volunteer readers who helped us judge this contest.

These essays were deeply touching and inspiring to all of us here at JPEF: the staff, board members and partisans. We look forward to hosting the contest again next year.

For further information or questions about the contest, please contact outreach@jewishpartisans.org.

This writing contest was made possible by contributions from the Alper, Bedzow, Blaichman, Charatan, Felson, Holm, Kushner, Orbuch, and Wohl families.

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 Youth Writing Contest Participants Comment About Their Experience

Over 500 students from 20 states, Canada and South Africa, representing public, private, Jewish and parochial schools, competed for the notoriety, an iPod Touch, JPEF DVDs, posters and t-shirts for both themselves and their teachers. Click here to read the blog announcing the winning essays.

Elliott Felson, JPEF board co-chair noted, "The students' essays were thoughtful, bright, and creative. Each one of them, from middle school to high school, spoke from the heart and the students were moved to make a difference in the world in their own way."

Many of the of the winning essayists were excited to share their comments:

EJ Weiss, First Place Winner - Upper Division, felt the contest was transformative, "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."

Jewish Partisan Sonia Orbuch with winning essayist EJ Weiss.
They had the opportunity to meet last week.

EJ's History Instructor at Kehillah Jewish High School, Jaclyn Guzman was excited to share that "JPEF's writing contest is a perfect match for classes that are looking to transform the lessons of history into their understanding of the world. The contest provides a true connection to real people and brings the past to the present for the students."

Molly Oberstein-Allen, Second Place Winner - Upper Division, observed, "I was glad to be given the opportunity to write about a topic so meaningful to me and to my heritage. I think the contest is a great way for students to both learn about people who stood up for others and to relate those people's actions to current times. The contest gave me new understanding of the Holocaust."

Molly's teacher at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Michal Cahlon, adds, "The Youth Writing Contest helped students reflect on the different ways they could effect change in their community, and on the importance of choosing to be a participant rather than a bystander during life's most difficult moments."

"Before the contest, I was familiar with the history of the Holocaust, having recently visited Terezin and Auschwitz." commented Nick Sexton (Third Place Winner, Upper Division), "By participating in the JPEF's Youth Writing Contest I gained insight into the lives of those that resisted the Nazis, teaching me things I did not know before - including that there were people that stood up and managed to save thousands of lives."

Mary Solomon, 8th Grade English and Literature teacher of Mason Stevens, the First Place Winner, - Lower Division, commented, "The Holocaust is a major part of our 8th Grade curriculum, which I have been teaching for more than twenty-five years. The JPEF web site is fabulous because in earlier years when students tried to research partisans there was not much available. This site is now on my list of highly recommended resources. We especially like to emphasize all the people who made a courageous decision to act rather than remain bystanders. Thanks for all that you do to make these stories available to students. They need images of heroes who are not rock stars or sports figures. The JPEF website provides that for them."

Jennifer Peterson, Second Place Winner - Lower Division, observed, "Researching and learning about the Jewish partisans has been a great experience. Thanks to the wonderful resource of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation website, I was able to learn so much I hadn't known about the Holocaust."

JPEF's 2011 Youth Writing Contest was made possible by a contribution in memory of Eta Wrobel (z"l) and contributions in honor of Rose Holm and in memory of Joe Holm (z"l).

Information about the 2012 Writing Contest will be available at www.jewishpartisans.org/contest in January, 2012.

For more information or questions about the contest, please email writingcontest@jewishpartisans.org

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Announcing the Winners of Our Second Annual Youth Writing Contest



Winning Essays are posted below -
please scroll down and click on links.


From 500+ entries representing 20 states across the country as well as entries from Canada and South Africa, in public, private, Jewish and parochial schools, the six top essays were chosen as winners: three from 8th-9th grades and three from 10th-12th grades.

Students were given the following quote as an essay prompt: “The only way for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing.” An English statesman expressed this sentiment, two hundred years before the Holocaust. This quote is commonly attributed to Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons in England during the time of the American Revolution. Burke supported the independence of the American colonies from England. His quote is as relevant today as it was then.

Student essayists were asked: How do you think this quote relates to the Jewish partisans? Then they wrote a 300 to 500 word personal essay answering this question using specific examples from at least one Jewish partisan that inspired them. Additionally they were asked to write about how they see this quote as relevant today.

The students essay portions on the relevance today ranged from bullying, to pollution to Darfur to standing up against discrimination and oppression.

Essays remained anonymous to our volunteer readers. Each essay was read three times by three different readers.

The winners are:
Lower Division (8th-9th Grades):
1st place:
Mason Stevens, 8th grade, St. Cecilia Catholic School, TX
2nd place:
Jennifer Peterson, 9th grade, Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, NE
3rd place:
Ashley Gomez. 9th grade, Arts High School, NJ

Upper division (10th-12th Grades):
1st place:
EJ Weiss, 10th grade, Kehillah Jewish High School, CA
2nd place:
Molly Oberstein-Allen, 12th grade, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, KS
3rd place:
Nicholas Sexton, 11th grade, McNair Academic High School, NJ

The winning essays discussed the life lessons of these Jewish Partisans:



We want to take the opportunity to thank all of the students who participated in the contest, and all of the administrators, educators and mentors who encouraged their participation. We would also like to thank the 40 volunteer readers who helped us judge this contest.

These essays were deeply touching and inspiring to all of us here at JPEF: the staff, board members and partisans. We look forward to hosting the contest again next year.

For further information or questions about the contest, please contact Doug Moss at doug@jewishpartisans.org

Friday, February 18, 2011

Student Inspired by the Legacy of Women Who Came Before Her

Nine grader, Talia Weisberg, Winner of our 2010 Youth Writing Contest

Last year, ninth grade student Talia Weisberg was inspired by the strength and courage of Jewish partisan Sara Fortis and many other Jewish women who came before her. Read her moving essay below.

JPEF will be announcing its 2011 Writing Contest soon! E-mail writingcontest@jewishpartisans.org for more information.


“We are of the Line,” I hear my mother say, and I am swept into the past, reliving the strong history of the women in our religion:

I am with Sarai as she becomes Sarah. I assist Rebecca as she helps Eliezer water his camels. I stand behind the chuppah with Rachel as Jacob unknowingly marries Leah. I strum a harp with Serakh as she tells Jacob that Joseph is alive. I sing with Miriam as she leads the Jewish women through the Red Sea. I protest with the daughters of Zelophehad as they ask Moses for their inheritance. I sit with Deborah under her date tree as she judges the Jewish people. I hand Jael the tent peg to kill Sisera and save her nation. I pray with Hannah in the Temple as she beseeches God for a child. I fast with Esther as she prepares to approach Ahasuerus and try to save her people.

I go from the plains of the Fertile Crescent, the deserts of Egypt, the lush fields of Israel, and the palaces of Persia to a more recent time. I am witnessing a hell unlike any I have seen before. Women, skeletons, starve in concentration camps I can barely recognize my grandmother and great-grandmother with several other female relatives, shipped from a wealthy home in Hungary, to this cold Polish prison, Auschwitz. I help my cousin pull my great-aunt from the left line, and again from a wagon destined for certain death I shield my great-grandmother as she steals scraps of food from the kitchens and trades them for cigarettes for my grandmother to smoke I deny the non-kosher meat with my great-grandmother and live off of air I feel the starvation, the cold, the pain, with my Jewish sisters.

As soon as I have seen their nightmarish life conditions in the concentration camp, I find myself among a group of Partisans, girls turned into women prematurely, acting as men trained for battle. They are dressed like regular Greek villagers, but it’s obvious they are on a mission. They stop at a house with swastikas on flags outside of it, and start a fire inside.

“Captain Sarika!” one girl calls out. “Sarika Fortis! Have we done it right?” Smoke begins to curl out of the house’s windows. “Yes, Eleni,” the captain replies. “Now we must go! The Partisans must never be caught!” The women hurry from the scene and I run with them, marveling at their strength, their audacity, how such young women could stand up to tyranny and prejudice with no second thoughts.

“We are of the Line,” my mother says, talking about the strong line of women we descend from, and yes, all I can do is nod, all I can do is agree. All these women were strong, defying social norms, protesting prejudices that kept them down, always questioning authority, never taking no as an answer, always fighting, always working, always reaching their goal.