On Tuesday, April 18 – Yom HaShoah – students spent much of the morning learning about the Holocaust from survivors. The day began with an all-school assembly with Rebbetzin Chaya Leah Small, who showed family photographs and talked about her life in Poland, then shared her family’s experiences escaping first to Kobe, Japan, then to the Japanese-controlled city of Shanghai in China, thanks to the heroic actions of Japanese Imperial Consul Chiune Sugihara.
Rebbetzin Small told students about the Mir Yeshiva, which operated in Shanghai during the Holocaust. It occupied an old synagogue that had been built years earlier and was virtually abandoned when the refugees arrived: the synagogue contained 224 seats, the exact number of talmidim in the Mir. She also shared a moving anecdote about HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz, the mashgiach of the Mir Yeshiva: Rabbi Shmuelevitz forbade Jews from riding in rickshaws, except in cases of emergency, because the men pulling it were also created in G-d’s image and were not to be treated as “animals of burden.”
After Rebbetzin Small’s talk, she taught junior and senior girls how to make sushi, which she learned to do as a child in Japan. The rest of the student body took turns interacting with a cutting-edge project from the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center: a hologram of a survivor which was programmed to answer questions about the survivor’s experiences.
Thank you to seniors Kayla Kupietzky and Carmel Schreiber for putting together this program, and to and Mrs. Laurie Hasten and Mrs. Miki Schreiber for leading the hologram sessions.
This program was sponsored in memory of Rabbi Shlomo Hirsch Koller, hy”d and his sister Etka Koller-Cykornik, hy”d, by Sharon and Seymour Gertz and the estate of Margalit bat Rav Shilem Gertz. z”l.