A prize in the category of Outstanding Final Matriculation Project on the Subject of the Holocaust was awarded to the theater track at “Ohr Torah Oriya” high school for girls at an awards ceremony at Yad Vashem. The students produced a show “The Children’s Train,” based on the play “Kindertransport.”
Ynet – Published: 21.06.16, 09:18
[Translated from Hebrew]
The Yad Vashem award ceremony for educational institutions’ works in the realm of the Holocaust for the year 2016 recently took place, and a prize in the category of Outstanding Final Matriculation Project on the Subject of the Holocaust was bestowed upon the students from the Ann Belsky Moranis Theater track at Ohr Torah Stone’s Oriya High School for girls, who produced and performed the work “The Children’s Train,” based upon the play “Kindertransport” by Diane Samuels.
For the first time in the history of the awards ceremony, students performed an emotionally moving segment of the play. Alongside each student’s acting role, each one also had a behind-the-scenes role – Noga Kaufman as director, Malki Freedman as costume designer, Baria Shirel as producer, Yaela Infeld on scenery and Ariela Levkov on sound.
The play’s background is the Kindertransport, the trains which smuggled children from Germany into Britain at the outbreak of World War II and which rescued 10,000 Jewish children. The play tells the story of Eva, a German Jewish girl who was sent in one of the transports, who deals with the difficult transition and sense of abandonment by her family by cutting all ties to her heritage, blocking out her past and converting to Christianity. Years later, when Eva’s daughter discovers her mother’s story, she embarks upon a quest for her Jewish roots, against her mother’s strong wishes.
“What makes the play special is the use of theater as a tool to transmit values and educational messages” says Nurit Pasternak-Goodman, director of the Ann Belsky Moranis Theater Track at the religious girls’ high school Oriya, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network. “The students worked the scene in accordance with the conception they chose – the search for Jewish identity, which is expressed in every facet of the performance: the texts, the scenery, the sound and – of course – the acting.
“Entering into their lives, the psychological depth of the characters and their struggles to cope with their identity, was an empowering and unique experience for the girls. As a rule, our goal is to produce women of theater who have an agenda and values, and the award they received in recognition of their efforts and the significance of their choice is part of their personal and professional development,” Pasternak-Goodman says.
“The play and the subject matter initially seemed complicated and difficult to us, but the first reading was enough for us to really connect,” relates Noga Kaufman, the show’s director, who plays Eva as an adult woan. “We wanted to focus and reflect on the search for Jewish identity and and the second generation’s return to their roots. It was difficult and challenging to deal with characters who undergo such intense experiences and processes and to portray the anger and the pain they felt onstage. But as time passed we connected to them more and more and we were able to convey their feelings to the audience.”
“I congratulate the students and pedagogic team from the Ann Belsky Moranis Theater Track on this impressive achievement. As part of the movement to perpetuating the horrors of the Holocaust in creative and educational ways, the girls took this subject one step beyond the theoretical study, while engaging in complex issues which require not only acting skills, but mental and emotional maturity,” says Ohr Torah Stone’s Director General, Yinon Ahiman.
“Immersing our students in this type of unconventional Holocaust education sears the lessons of the Holocaust in their memory and into the memory of their fellow students, educators, and audience,” he says.