Students Remember Holocaust with Artwork, Creative Writing

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To honor our local survivors and remember those who perished during the Holocaust, local schools entered the Yom Hashoah Creative Arts Contest. Students created original poems and visual arts pieces to incorporate this year’s theme, “Finding the meaning in broken glass: Reflections on Kristallnacht.”

View the 2018 Creative Arts Contest winning entries below. Thank you to the 2018 sponsors of our annual Yom Hashoah V'Hagvurah, Cleveland's commemoration of the Holocaust and heroism. 

Visual Arts – High School:

1st Place: Julia (Saint Joseph Academy)

2nd Place: Mary (Saint Joseph Academy)

3rd Place: Zoe (Beachwood High School)

Visual Arts – Middle School:

1st Place: Ella Jo (Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School)

2nd Place: Rachel (Fuchs Mizrachi School)

3rd Place: Cate (Orchard Middle School)

Writing – High School:

1st Place: Caillean (James A. Garfield High School)

"In the Darkness"

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
The burning light of torches reflecting
on broken window panes falling to the ground

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
By men whose reflections distorted in fractured glass
becoming monsters

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
Eager fires unleashed
By raging monsters who were once men

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
Burned with books and furniture
Memories went up in flames

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
Empty shop fronts leading
to hollow rooms

In the darkness
Their lives were shattered
The sanctuary of home and synagogue
Taken violently, destroyed

With the light
Their lives no longer mattered
Autumn leaves scattered with ashes
Through ravaged streets

With the light
Their lives no longer mattered
Dreams now just reflections
that faded as bonfires died

With the light
Their lives lay broken
Their hearts in pieces
Cracked like the glass of windows
Trampled under feet of demons
as they left with the darkness

2nd Place: Chad (James A. Garfield High School)

"Sands and Ashes"

“Turn out all the lights,
I don’t want anyone to see our shadows.”
The content shadow of the big red J.
Shadows containing harmless grains of sand,
Shadows incorporating the outline of a culture.
A shadow is not visible in the dark,
Nor is it distinguishable with full light.
Yet, in the light, the sands remain in view.
From Germany to Austria,
Metzer Strasse to Mariahilferstrasse,
Dragged into the streets,
Into the menacing light of a bonfire.
You can not detect a shadow in the center of Gehinnom’s flames.
“You can see the fire underneath you.”
Becoming consumed by a civilization,
Devoured by the blaze,
Fueled by the rage of a society’s hatred.
The grains of sand fuse together.
Sand transfigures to glass.
Glass that shows one God, perceived with two different sets of eyes,
Manifested with contrasting views and glares at David’s Star.
Glass that reflects faces of triumph,
And lacerates all who are full of dread.
“I remember holding my mother for dear life.”
A forced day of judgement has come for all.
And then, at that moment, the glass shatters.
Four hundred massacred by the shards as they descend upon the streets.
The glass fragments were to be swept beneath the rug,
To hide the shame, the pain, and to mask the truth.
But the scattered remains simply reflect each miniscule grain of sand in which created it.
With more angles visible to the eye,
With more stories, faces, bloodshed, loss, and an everlasting hope.
And behind each reflection of the glass there is a shadow.
A clear shadow that has a different story for each shard.
The resurrection of an entire culture,
The shadow of the big red J.

3rd Place: Jesse (James A. Garfield High School)

"Sand In The Glass"

Collected from the ground with many others
For my unique and durable properties
Melted together, formed, cut to shape
Then polished and put in place
Transparently showing my treasures inside
To the children who stop and peek through
I was loved in the window
Taken care of and safe
I had a purpose
Forever to be changed on that night
Burning all around me
Splashed with red I was stained
Smashed from the others
The screaming of terror
The hatred in voices
Shattered to pieces
Left broken in the streets
Forced to be swept away by some who once loved me
Abandoned back into the ground
Shattered and broken in the ground I wait
What will my next purpose be?

Writing – Middle School:

1st Place: Eva (Fuchs Mizrazhi School)

"Caring- from the other side"

Don’t know how to love
Don’t know how to trust
Don’t know how to close my mind
and open up my mouth
Watching people taken away
screaming out of love
Nazis all over the place
twisted crosses on their arms.
Looking through my window
above my beautiful bed,
watching crying people follow their family love.
Running down the stairs
greeting my Vater
But as he comes in
there’s a tear in his eye
and a very big shred of regret …?

I go to sleep that night
To the sound of sobbing over precious laws
And the smell of smoke from the burning of synagogues
My eye wets
a tear forms
as I fall asleep
to the sound of broken glass.
Friends, family, neighbors, and loved ones
turning on each other in a flash
People of all different ages and sizes
being dragged from their safety
The burning, crashing, smashing, ripping
is what I fall to sleep to
For those two nights
The memory that sticks in my mind
seeing the arm band with the twisted cross
On Vater’s thick winter coat
Why did he do it?
How did he do it?

How does he live with it?

2nd Place: Emmie (Fuchs Mizrazhi School)

"The Night of Broken Hearts"

Perspective can change in a split second.
Your friends into your worst enemy, dreams into your inferior nightmare.
Glass cracks, shards flying
like knives falling to the floor, ready to kill.
At first, I had hope
convincing myself to believe
believe everything was alright.
A family's job to comfort, but what if I had none to give?
Abba slumped on the floor.
Next to him the bloody rock that had struck his forehead.
A bat for protection now mangled.
A night of broken glass, a night of broken hearts.
Imma clasping her head in her hands, tears tumbling down her cheek to form a river of heartache.
She must have known what was happening,
Because I did not.
Old friends and neighbors ripping open our pillows
Feathers escaping like a cloud being torn apart,
Picking up a feather, how could I not?
It was the only thing that reminded me of happiness.
Was it better not to know, better not to remember?
Questions rushing through my mind
How could anyone be so harsh?
A night of broken glass.
A night of broken hearts.
Running to the attic..
From the crack in the window I could see synagogues.
burning to the ground, slowly disintegrating. .
“Schätzchen, we’re leaving to a safe house” said Imma.
I didn't want to leave,
My friends, school, and home here.
A night of broken glass.
A night of broken hearts
80 years ago - now all the memories locked in my heart and in my journey
All the bitter memories rushing through my head.
Dear Grandchildren before me, faces in shock.
I wanted this to be remembered.
So they can be prevent the worst.
Could they ever relate?
Hopefully they will never have to.
Life moves on
Not forgotten

3rd Place: Atara (Fuchs Mizrazhi School)

"Dear Anna"

My dear little 12 year old Anna,
My memory is fading
like the sun on Kristallnacht.
Looking back, It feels like only yesterday
Uncle Joe was taken away.
Mama saying ,’It’s all right,’
yet still turning off the radio when Adolf starts up.
The house is safe
9 of us sleeping on one floor
How I disliked sleeping with little Aidel and Ben.
Crack! Smack!
My window smashed through
Jumping out to run to Mutter and Vater.
The kitchen with glass all over,
favorite dishes scattered in shards.
Is there a reason?
What is our fate?
Too frightened to move
Ben pushed me to run
All of the evil has just begun
Is there any reason?
Why is this our fate?
The neighbors I know.
My friend
ransacking my belongings.
Is there a reason?
Is this my fate?
The synagogue
high flames
smells of smoke,
looks of terror
and confusion.
Will this continue?
Is there a reason?
How could this be our fate?
Looking back It feels like only yesterday.
Yet really 80 years?
Now I wonder…
Was there a reason
Why was that our Fate?

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Elie Wiesel

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