Dr. Jeff Ellison, 8th Grade History Teacher
Each year, Bernard Zell 8th grade students collaborate on their Interdisciplinary Project that showcases their historical knowledge of the Holocaust. This project is unique in that it weaves skills from their history classes, the arts, Jewish studies, and reading/writing workshops into a culminating experience that is a hallmark of our school.
The foundation of this year’s project is a Torah from a small town of Rychnov in the Czech Republic, which miraculously survived the Holocaust. This Torah, Survivor #1089, is one of 1,564 Czech Torahs that was entrusted to the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust, originally housed at the Westminster Synagogue in London. In November of 2022, the Torah arrived at Bernard Zell—on permanent loan—to its proud, new guardians, the Class of 2023.
This project will consist of four major components providing these 8th graders with a wide breadth of education and skills. It will involve our students spending time on their design and engineering skills to build an ark and mantle to house the Torah for future generations—l’dor v’dor. They will be researching the origin and journey of the Torah through the second World War, gaining historical context on the Holocaust and what surviving meant for both the Torah and for our ancestors. Building on the 8th grade value of zachor (preserving memories), our students will share the story and their learnings with the community at-large by designing websites, presentations and children’s books.
Enjoy the video and photos below of the students brainstorming ideas for the curtain that separates the ark from the Torah. The students look forward to sharing Torah #1089’s story with our community in the Spring!