‘If they were here: What would Holocaust victims think’?


The Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center’s Art and Writing Contest is one of its longest running and most creatively inspiring programs. As Executive Director May-Ronny Zeidman said, “Using the lessons of the Holocaust to relate to what is happening in the world today directly ties into our mission of connecting today’s generation to the lessons of our past and giving them a voice to build a better future for everyone.”


This years’ theme, “If They Were Here,” asks what Holocaust victims would think of recent genocides and the present state of bigotry and hatred in the world? If those who did not survive could come back, how would they view the world’s situation now through the lens of genocides that have happened or are happening now, since the Holocaust? The theme of connecting people who didn’t survive the Holocaust with what is happening today was chosen to both challenge and excite participants.

Zeidman said, “Many of the students who win are first-generation Americans, and it is exciting to look at the parents who see that their children are living the American Dream. And, students who have come here from another country that is under siege, like Cambodia or Rwanda, really get it. They really identify with, and understand, what the Holocaust was all about.”

“When a student gets it they do incredible things with the yearly themes. What the students produce, the artwork in particular, never ceases to amaze us.”

The annual contest brings in  300-400 entries from students across Rhode Island. Sometimes the entries are so good that two first prizes are awarded. Often, the ice cream social awards presentation standing-room-only as parents and teachers come out to support the children.

The entry deadline this year is Tuesday, April 25. The contest rewards students’ creative expression and awards prizes in a number of categories including: Art (both 2- and 3-dimensional), Essays and Short Stories, Music, Photography, and Poetry. New this year is the opportunity for students to create TED-talk-like videos. Entries will be judged by members of the board of directors of the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center.

Winners, their families and friends will be invited to the awards ceremony and ice cream party on Sunday, May 21. For entry forms and more category details, contact the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center at 401-453-7860 or May@BornsteinHolocaustCenter.org.

Lev Poplow is a Communications and Development Consultant writing on behalf of the Bornstein Holocaust Education Center. He can be reached at levpoplow@gmail.com.