Grade 6 parents, siblings and grandparents were treated to an exceptional cultural evening last night – one which showcased our students’ and faculty’s remarkable creativity and talents. In a highly-anticipated exhibit held in the Hebrew Academy Beit Midrash, Grade 6 students and their French teachers, Mesdames Shirley Azoulay, Rivka Toledano, Etty Amar and Ilana Lasry  unveiled the results of months of extensive genealogical research conducted as part of their “Mon histoire de famille” program.

An initiative of Tel Aviv’s Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People, the 25-year-old program has been incredibly successful in schools worldwide and offers students a chance to explore their family history and deepen their connection to the Jewish people. It was the idea of Dr. Miriam Schrager, Elementary Director of French Studies and Academics, to have HA students participate for the first time last year.

“After the indisputable success of last year’s program, yesterday we hosted the second exhibit of “My family story,” she said. “The students stood out based on the originality and creativity of their projects. It seems that the accumulated experience [of the previous year] set the stage for the students’ motivation and degree of investment. I am extremely satisfied with the results but especially with our students’ findings and discoveries about their respective famililes’ heritage.”

Grade 6 began the program at the beginning of the year and worked on the curriculum – including assignments, interviews, the assembly of family trees and the collection of artefacts – at school. The accompanying artwork, which ranged from intricate replicas and dioramas to exquisite photo collections, was largely completed at home.

“We had the pleasure through the Beit Hatfusot project of discovering touching stories that highlight Jewish values, customs and heritage,” said Mme Azoulay. “The parents’ involvement largely enabled us to execute the mission set out by Beit Hatfusot, which was to preserve our identity by becoming aware of our origins.”

Prior to and during the exhibit, a panel of judges including School Rabbi Rabbi Eddie Shostak, Ha alumnus Warren Rohr (’78), and French teacher Ilana Krief evaluated each project. On Friday, they will announce the three finalists they have chosen to represent Hebrew Academy in the My Family Story Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf International Competition. These students have a chance to travel to Israel to showcase their projects at Beit Hatfutsot’s international exhibit in June. Last year, Grade 6 student Noemie Bendayan was selected as one of three school finalists, then Beit Hatfutsot chose her as one of 50 international finalists! Her project was on display at the museum last summer.

Mme Toledano was most impressed with her students’ genuine interest in their family origins. “As the project progressed I was able to observe the interest and curiosity it aroused in the students,” she said. “Week after week they brought back documentation about their family, their grandparents, their Jewish identity. The discovery of their family’s history led them to write, read and share together in French all of this precious historical information. The exhibition was a great success among all who attended – especially parents and grandparents. Congratulations!”

Stay tuned to learn the names of the three finalists!

Click here for more pictures.

-by Aviva Engel, Director of Communications

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