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This is How We Remember

For the past 10 years, the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz has been leading Holocaust Remembrance activities in the city by offering a wide array of programs to Akko’s diverse communities of all ages. Under the banner “Rebellion of Hope,” this annual program reaches out to a wide range of Akko locals to discuss Holocaust memory in new and interesting ways with the vision of bringing the community together to do more than remember for the sake of the past, but also for the sake of the future.

This year, two extra special events were added to the program to illuminate unique stories from the Shoah in two very different parts of the city.

Janusz Korczak was a Jewish educator in Poland who believed that children should be treated with the importance and respect that they deserve. As the director of an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto, Korzczak lived out this philosophy by insisting on instilling hope and a love for life in those children under his care.

The Akko Educators’ Kibbutz new home is situated in the Korczak neighborhood of Akko, named after the great educator. Therefore, we felt that it was fitting to run a family-friendly afternoon in the park in the heart of the neighborhood that drew dozens of children and their parents, speaking Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. After building cities out of boxes, making kites, and drawing their dreams for Akko, the children gathered for a short ceremony where they learned about Korzcak’s “Ten Commandments” for how children should be treated in society.

On the final day of Rebellion of Hope activities, just before the official municipal memorial ceremony, members of the public were invited to attend “Our Community Remembers” at the city conservatory.

This unique event brought to life two very different stories: one of an entire Jewish community that was destroyed after being turned on by its Polish neighbors, and another, the French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose residents risked their lives and livelihoods to hide and save thousands of Jewish refugees. Two actors, one from the Akko Educators’ Kibbutz and another from the local college gave life to these stories with an incredibly moving performance.

After a heartfelt musical component and a short informational talk that provided more background on the events, the audience broke into small discussion circles. Facilitated by educators from the Akko Kibbutz, these discussion circles tackled the difficult questions that arise from confronting two such very different stories, like what does it take for people to choose to sanctify the lives of others? What conditions are necessary for an entire community to risk its own safety to save another?

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