The rules for this year’s Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust essay contest were demanding.
Read three articles on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website.
Then, according to the rules: “Compose a story or poem in which you are a child of a survivor of the Holocaust. Include what you want your future children to know about your experiences and the lessons you want them to learn from you.”
Fifty-two Spokane area high school students took on the challenge. And the winners – Randy Sylvester of University High School, Paul Espora of East Valley High School and Lee Organick of Ferris High School – will be honored Thursday at the annual observance at Temple Beth Shalom on Spokane’s South side.
The theme of this year’s observance: “And you shall tell your children.”
Hershel Zellman, chair of the committee that organizes the observance, said, “The Holocaust was the most awful preplanned slaughter of people in the history of the 20th century.
“We need to reach the children to help them give up any notions of hate, exclusivity and be more welcoming of people of all races, backgrounds and religions to decrease the chances of genocide in the future.”
The keynote speaker will be Carl Wilkens, former head of Adventist Development and Relief Agency International. Wilkens decided against leaving Rwanda at the start of the 1994 genocide; he remained behind to work in the efforts to save children and adults.
Also at the observance, Kinderchor, a Spokane children’s choir, will sing two Holocaust-themed songs, and the Spokane Youth Symphony will perform.
Eva Lassman, Spokane Holocaust survivor, died in February at 91. Over the years, she shared her story with thousands of children and teens. Next year’s essay contest will be renamed the Eva Lassman Memorial Contest, Zellman said.