News and Tribune

March 17, 2014

Floyd Central juniors hold Holocaust assembly

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

FLOYDS KNOBS — Though originally composed for a string quartet and as a birthday gift, the opening act by Floyd Central High School’s string orchestra was haunting.

The piece was composed by a Jewish prisoner in Theresienstadt, a German concentration camp. Shortly after it was written, its composer was shipped off in a cramped rail car, then gassed to death. The music, however, survived.

Last Thursday, the high school held its annual Holocaust assembly for juniors. The students covered the subject in world history and brought it all together for the event.

This year’s guest speaker was Rabbi Michael Wolk from the Keneseth Israel Congregation in Louisville. He said though the Holocaust was an ugly period of time for those of the Jewish faith, it’s important not to forget.

But it doesn’t make it easier to talk about.

“Sometimes, I sigh a little bit and wonder if that’s really the best use of time,” Wolk said. “If you have one exposure to Jewish history, should it be one of our darkest moments? I’m always kind of troubled by that.”

But he said when he thinks about it that way, it reminds him of a story involving his grandfather, a rabbi in Clifton, N.J.

He said some teenagers vandalized his grandfather’s synagogue. After spray painting swastikas and racial slurs, they were caught and brought before a judge, facing jail time.

But Wolk’s grandfather intervened, telling the judge instead of spending time behind bars, they should perform community service with him and learn more about Judaism.

They didn’t know anything about the 6 million Jews, killed in labor camps through vicious means. Years after that, one of the boys became a police captain in the state.

The orchestra also played the main theme from “Schindler’s List,” a popular film about Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,000 Jews by listing them as valuable employees of his factories.

Wolk said though the Holocaust was a pivotal moment in Jewish history, he hopes people learn more about Judaism and the people who practice it. He said there’s so much more to their culture and history.

As his grandfather taught a group of ruffians, he said knowledge and understanding bring acceptance.