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14th Annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest
YOM HASHOAH: SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2020

This Essay Contest is a tribute to Israel “Izzy” Arbeiter, a Holocaust survivor and lifelong rights activist who lost several family members in the Holocaust. He is a past president of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston. Students in grades 6-12 are invited to write a 400-800 word essay on the following topic. Essays will be judged on originality, knowledge, style, and depth. Each year, JCRC receives hundreds of essays from schools across Greater Boston.

When World War II ended, many Holocaust survivors were liberated from concentration camps by Russian, British or American soldiers. Liberation means “the action of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression.” For both the survivors and liberators, the reality proved to be much more complex. The phrase “Return to Life” is often used in connection with the period immediately following liberation. 75 years have passed since the Holocaust, however recent studies suggest that the call to “never forget” the horrors of the Holocaust may be fading while incidents of racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia (fear of people unlike yourself) are rising.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security reported that hate crimes in Massachusetts increased by almost 10 percent to a 10-year high in 2017. his represented the highest number of hate crimes in a decade and the third consecutive year of increasing hate crimes. Hate crimes today continue to be a growing concern all around the world.

“To listen to a witness is to become a witness.”
—Elie Wiesel

Holocaust Survivor, teacher, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner

  • How do you think survivors felt after learning the war was over? What do you think were their hopes and fears?
  • What do you imagine were some of the thoughts/emotions the liberators experienced?
  • After hearing survivors and liberators talk about liberation, how does it inspire you to take more action to combat antisemitism, hatred, racism and bigotry now?
  • What do you think you can do to make a change in the direction of the rise of antisemitism and acts of hate in our community?

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: MARCH 8, 2020

Essay contest winners will receive educational scholarships, a trip to the Holocaust Memorial in DC, and be awarded at Greater Boston’s Jewish Community Commemoration of Yom HaShoah on April 19 in Faneuil Hall, Boston. Please submit essays in word documents only (no Google Docs) along with name, address, phone number, email, birthday, teacher, grade, and school to Ellen Kaye, Event Consultant at . Essay finalists will be notified by March 30.

In partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Facing History and Ourselves, the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston, and many generous donors.

Resources on survivor/liberator voices, antisemitism and hate crimes:

HATE CRIMES & ANTISEMITISM
Anti Defamation League of MA on Antisemitism
https://newengland.adl.org/news/audit-of-anti-semitic-incidents/

WBUR ON HATE CRIMES
https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2019/01/04/hate-crimes-racism-laurel-sampson-ivan-espinoza-madrigal

SURVIVOR VOICES ON LIBERATION
In Danger in Forgetting, historian David Wyaman recounts the liberation of three local survivors after the war - Sonia Weitz, Samuel Bak, and Rena Finder - featuring the poetry of Sonia Weitz (I promised I would Tell), by Sonia Weitz
http://new.wymaninstitute.org/about-david-s-wyman
https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/danger-forgetting-eyewitnesses-holocaust-sonia-weitz

SURVIVORS AND THE RETURN TO LIFE
https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/reconciling-identities-after-war
https://youtu.be/rfuqLIknCIs

SURVIVAL AND LIBERATION THROUGH ART
https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/interpreting-works-samuel-bak/interruption

SURVIVORS AND LIBERATORS - FIRST MOMENTS
https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/liberation-auschwitz
https://youtu.be/kOIHRQlQqwU

SURVIVORS AND LIBERATORS - FIRST MOMENTS
https://www.facinghistory.org/resource-library/video/liberation-auschwitz
https://youtu.be/kOIHRQlQqwU

PERSPECTIVES FROM LIBERATORS ON LIBERATION
Local liberators Ellsworth Rosen and Chan Rogers recount the Dachau liberation.
https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/collections/oral-histories/excerpts/woh-ex-0001035/1945-liberating-boxcar-full-jews https://www.witnesstowar.org/combat_stories/WWII/7912
Leon Bass, an African American soldier who served in a segregated unit of the US Army shares his experience as a liberator and as a soldier who faced his own dealings with hate and discrimination.
https://fortunoff.library.yale.edu/podcast/leon-bass/