Visiting Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial and museum, one learns that millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust cannot even be identified (and thus remembered) by name. Yad Vashem has accordingly established a database of Shoah victims’ names that it seeks to complete. In creating the permanent exhibition for the new Holocaust History Museum, one of the many elements Yad Vashem sought to introduce was the emphasis on the fate of the individual during the Holocaust.
These thoughts come to mind in connection with the unusual class project undertaken by seventh grade teacher Susan Powell of the Horn Lake Middle School in Horn Lake, Mississippi. She writes:
My students are working on a Holocaust project and we need help. If there is a way you can help us publicize this project, we would greatly appreciate it. The link for a description of our project is included below. Every penny we collect represents a child who lost [his or her] life during the Holocaust.
We know that it would be expensive to send pennies, so for any dollar sent, we will have it cashed into pennies.
Thanks so much,
7th Grade teacher
Horn Lake Middle School
The link sent along by Ms. Powell is to the Memphis Commercial Appeal article on her class project. A friend who forwards Ms. Powell’s message comments: “Anything we can do… promoting their effort (and helping the kids get the pennies) would be a mitzvah.” The school’s address is: 6125 Hurt Road, Horn Lake, MS 38637-2399.
UPDATE: Gerald Schor writes from Raanana, Israel with a note regarding the Yad Vashem data base:
Sixty-four years after the end of the Second World War, my family learned of the survival of two members through Yad Vashem’s Data Base. I had filled out a Page of Testimony for a cousin who had visited my family in America in 1939, and who had returned to Poland shortly before the outbreak of the war. We had believed that he and his entire family had been murdered by the Nazis.
In May 2009, a woman living in Long Island, preparing for a family trip to Israel for her son’s bar mitzvah, wanted to learn the opening hours for visiting Yad Vashem. On the Web site, she noticed a link to the database of names, and typed in the name of her great-grandfather. The page turned up with my signature at the bottom.
She traced me through the Internet, sent me an e-mail telling me that her mother was the granddaughter of my deceased cousin. We exchanged information and established that she was, indeed, my cousin. She and her mother (my cousin’s daughter-in-law) were the only survivors of the family in Poland.
When the family came to Israel for the bar mitzvah, they met us and a number of other cousins, whose existence they had been completely unaware of, and we have maintained contact with them after their return to the USA.