Change Font Size:   A A A

May 09, 2011

Rabbi Inspires Students with Yom Hashoah Message

Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Congregation Agudas Achim, Austin, challenged St. Andrew’s Episcopal School students to “make a difference” in the world. Blumofe spoke at the school’s second annual Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day observance in Austin in early May.  His prayer focused the Middle School students on contemplating God’s blessings in their lives and urged them to respond with courage and kindness.


The student-led chapel commemorated the six million Jews killed by Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. Both seventh and eighth graders offered prayers and poetry during the memorial service. The more than 150 students, faculty and parents, gathered around votive candles outlining the Star of David on the floor. The names of Holocaust victims were read aloud by Mandy Justiz and Christopher Snitkjaer as archival photographs from the Holocaust appeared on a screen.


Students offered an opening prayer, delivered the Barechu or Call to Worship in Hebrew and read the Shema as well as presented musical offerings. Blumofe concluded with the Mourner’s Kaddish. Eighth graders’ study of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir Night made the chapel an ideal response to classroom learning.


“St. Andrew’s perhaps may be one of the only Christian schools observing Yom Hashoah with a student-led chapel service,” said Dorothy De La Garza, a teacher at the Austin school. “Rabbi Blumofe’s message has inspired us to look for additional ways to counter intolerance and injustice in our world.”


Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." By 1945 at the end of the war, nearly two out of every three European Jews had perished.  Yom Hashoah, observed worldwide, is intended to call attention to the inhumanity and evil that can result from hatred and intolerance. It also celebrates the amazing strength and endurance of the human spirit.