The Jewish Federation of Orange County has announced the winners of its 2020 “Stop Hatred Challenge,” whose theme this year was moral courage.
In addition to the traditional essay contest, the federation offered prizes this year for creative student responses. These included: posters, podcasts, electronic public service announcements (PSAs), other creative videos, children’s books, graphic novellas, songs, poems and plays.
Students were asked to choose a person or group who exemplified moral courage during the Holocaust and compare/contrast them with a contemporary group or person who exemplifies moral courage today.
In addition, students were asked to reflect on what they can do to exhibit moral courage in their own lives.
Teachers overseeing students received a stipend for their efforts.
Winner in the High School Category was Washingtonville High School 12th grader Connor Bankas for a song entitled “White Rose.”
Winner in the 8th Grade category was Ariana Azeez of Chester Academy, whose teacher was Stephanie Steiler. Her entry was a Holocaust poem entitled “ The Life of a Leader, Roza Robota.”
According to the Jewish Women’s Archive: Roza Robota was “a member of the Jewish underground in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and one of the organizers of an operation to smuggle explosives for use by members of the Sonderkommando (Jewish forced-labor unit of concentration camp prisoners) in the October 7, 1944 revolt at the camp.”
Here is Ariana’s poem.