A Pinch of Salt and Brighter Lights
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060920.cfm
One pinch of salt and one light can make all the difference. That was Jesus’ message to us today, and that was the purpose of a wonderful and poignant program our 8th grade students participated in this year called “Names, Not Numbers”. It is a unique national program sponsored by the Holocaust Center whereby students actually interview and record oral histories of survivors of the Holocaust. Because our Principal, Katie Walsh, eagerly responded to the invitation to be part of this program, our St. Margaret Mary students were the first Catholic students to participate. After months of learning how to interview, how to film and edit from professionals, our students met 4 local Holocaust survivors and one liberator. Realistically and in all likelihood, these young people will probably be the last generation to meet actual Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.
They heard Sonja share how her mother smuggled out the sacred family Shabbat candlesticks in the baby’s basket when they had to flee Germany; they learned that Harry hid for two days in a stack of car tires to hide from Nazi soldiers; and Helen survived in a concentration camp on a daily meager piece of bread and bowl of watered down soup. Eva and Gilbert each shared about their normal homelife as children, the games they played and the friends they had. Then life changed and all was taken away from them. After the war, they looked for their families. No one was left. But they each found the courage to live, eventually fell in love and raised wonderful families. To this day, and all are now in their 90’s, they still cry about the loved ones they lost.
As you can imagine, our 8th graders were captivated by their stories, their courage and their spirit and shared that they are now inspired to combat not only anti-Semitism, but all forms of hatred and intolerance. Who would have known when they had this invaluable experience that this message of respect for each person no matter their race or creed would be needed now more than ever. If you would like to see this beautiful “Names, not Numbers”. documentary done totally by our students which debuted last week, please visit the Holocaust Center website: https://www.holocaustedu.org/event/film/ or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0raCh-uHpA&feature=youtu.be.
The fact is, our students have now become ‘witnesses to the witnesses’ because they have experienced firsthand the people affected by the atrocities of the past. Their hearts have been touched, they will never be the same again, and they will live what they’ve learned. They have become salt and light for the world.
Unfortunately, however, for too long, we’ve witnessed injustices that have now come to a boiling point in our society. Like our 8th graders, our hearts have been not only moved but challenged as well. As we face the future with a firmer resolve to right the wrongs, may we courageously and intentionally do so in order to bring about God’s kingdom and be better salt and brighter lights in our world.