Eleventh Graders from Ohr Torah Stone’s Ulpanat Oriya were awarded the Yad Vashem prize for their production of “Adam Resurrected,” based on the novel by Yoram Kaniuk.
Arutz 7 – Published: 24.06.18
Three 11th grade students from Ohr Torah Stone’s Oriya High School for Girls were awarded the Yad Vashem Prize for Educational Projects in a ceremony in Jerusalem this Sunday. The prize was awarded for their dramatization of the play Adam Ben Kelev (Adam Resurrected), as part of their studies in the Ann Belsky Moranis Theater Arts track.
This is the second time that Ohr Torah Stone’s Oriya High School has been awarded this important prize.
The students’ final project for their high school Matriculation diploma in theater studies dealt with the subject of the Holocaust. Throughout the year, the students read a number of novels and plays on the subject and then chose to adapt and stage a few scenes from the play, which is based on Yoram Kaniuk’s novel, and offer novel interpretations.
Adi Yomtov, one of the prize winners, said: “When we decided to deal with the Holocaust, we knew that we wanted to change how people relate to the subject. We wanted to get them to think of other topics, not just the six million or the gas chambers. The Holocaust is a far more complex subject which is comprised of many layers.”
She describes that in their play, “we made a point of bringing to the fore specifically those people from whom society shied away, mainly because of fear and unwillingness to deal with those who had left their sanity behind in the camps of Europe.”
Shay Barak, her fellow prize winner, explains, “We studied the Holocaust in history lessons throughout the year and I wanted to delve deeper into the subject. Studying a subject because you chose to do so and not because it is part of the school syllabus for final exams means that the entire approach is different, and on a much deeper level. During my work on the play, I matured and I learned so much about the Holocaust, about theater and about myself. I learned to look at things in proportion and to see the wider picture. My whole way of thinking about events and about life has changed and I am certain that this will stay with me in the future.”
Ilanit Etkin, the third prize winner adds: “When the siren sounded on Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, very few people around me wept. I felt that something had been severed; that the Holocaust had become a distant subject. I wanted to do something that would cause the audience of the play to be shocked and to change their attitude. Almost all of my mother’s family was wiped out in the Holocaust, and only my great-grandmother survived. Nevertheless, Holocaust Remembrance Day was different for me this year. Every little story struck a chord and I felt that after I had studied the subject in depth, I really do understand it a little better.” Etkin continues: “Next summer I will go on a school study seminar to Poland and I am certain that because of what I gained from this project, the whole experience will be more powerful and that when I march at all the places I have read about, my feelings will be stronger.”
The play is about the lives of Holocaust survivors in Israel and how they dealt with the deep emotional scars they bear. The chief protagonist is Adam Stein, a successful Jewish comedian and circus owner in Germany. During the war he is interned in a concentration camp and forced to entertain Jews as they are marched to their death. Stein survives, moves to Israel and is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for Holocaust survivors in the southern city of Arad. Together with therapy and rest, Adam is forced to deal with his past and decide whether he is going to live in the present or in the past.
Nurit Pasternak-Goodman, a teacher in the Ann Belsky Moranis theater studies track at Ohr Torah Stone’s Oriya High School, directed the girls throughout the process of creating and directing the play: “As part of their studies, the girls are tested on their understanding of the theater and their ability to apply what they have learned. They study the background of theater in Israel and are required to produce and stage a play, working together in a team to present a show which brings together all the elements of the stage – dramaturgy, movement, music, lighting, scenery, costumes and props.”
Pasternak-Goodman added: “Adi, Shay and Ilanit succeeded in using the language of the theater to express themselves, thus offering a personal, original interpretation of the play. The audience picked up on this, together with the mixed feelings that appeared on stage.”
Adi: “Many people asked us what made us want to shock the audience and put them through such an emotional experience. By watching the play and going through the process, the audience experiences a miniscule part of the madness that existed over there and manages to reach out to the past.”
Yinon Ahiman, Ohr Torah Stone’s Director General: “I congratulate the students and pedagogic staff of the theater track on their impressive achievement. By deciding to delve into this complex and difficult subject, the students have chosen the best possible way of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive among both students and teachers. One can sit in class and learn about the subject, but these students chose a way that makes a deep impression on them and also on the audience.”