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Shalom Award for Sr. Anne Brady

3 November 2017

United States

The US Province celebrates with Sr. Anne Brady on her reception of the Shalom Award given to her last March in Mobile, Alabama.  Anne herself explains it in her address to the group.

 

Shalom Award – March 13, 2017

Sr. Anne Brady

Thank you for this award.  I am very honored to receive it - and especially to receive it with Don and Jerry, stalwart Holocaust student and educators.

First of all I’d like to remember Paul and Mary Filben – founders of the Christian Jewish dialogue.  Many of the speakers they brought to Mobile were experts on the Holocaust and introduced me to the history and horrors of the Holocaust.  Then Paul and Rickie came to my classroom to help me teach the Holocaust to my middle school students.

In 2001, the Catholic National Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University (near Pittsburgh) offered me a tuition scholarship to Yad Vashem – the International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem.  The second intifada had begun.  One of the teachers chosen to go was a Lebanese Christian and his family worried about his safety and asked him not to go. I was chosen instead.  I went home to Northern Ireland for about a week before traveling from Belfast to Tel Aviv.  One of my nieces asked her mother, “Do you think Auntie Anne will be safe in Israel?  At the end of the course, as I prepared to return home, some of the friends I made on the course asked me, “Are you sure you’re wise going back to Belfast?”  It’s all in your perception!  People asked me when I got back here – were you not afraid?  My reply, “I’m from Northern Ireland.  A bomb or two doesn’t bother me.”  The Federation helped to pay for my hotel in Jerusalem.  I understand that this money came from a fund set up by Harry and Kela Zaremba, Holocaust survivors who lived in Mobile.

The Institute in Yad Vashem lasted almost four weeks and focused on the historical, moral and Philosophical dimensions of the holocaust.  The goal was to equip educators to teach the next generation about what happened and why.  Classes ran every day from 8:30 until 5:30.  The amount of information was almost overwhelming.  All the lecturers were experts in their field and were very generous with their time.  Some of them came back in the evenings to answer any questions and present further material.  Our group of 35, aged 23 to over 70, consisted of Jews and Christians from several countries e.g. US, Canada, South Africa, England, Poland, Columbia and Germany.  Speakers included several survivors, three from Schindler’s List.  One lady was quite excited that she had become a grandmother for the 6th time, with twin granddaughters.  “That’s my revenge on Hitler”, she said. 

That whole Yad Vashem experience was life-changing and I came back to Mobile feeling more secure about teaching the Holocaust and more determined than ever to teach it as well as I could to my middle school students.

A few years before this, on the 25th anniversary of the Christian Jewish dialogue, the Federation purchased the Paul and Mary Filben Holocaust Trunk to honor Paul and Mary.  This is a wonderful resource for Holocaust education, especially for the middle schools.  The Trunk contains classroom sets of instructional materials – posters, maps, DVD’s and CD’s, lesson plans, many books by and about young people.  Schools may request the trunk and use it in the classrooms for 2-3 weeks.  At that time I was teaching Literature and Religion to 6, 7 and 8th grades.  For those three weeks I used the trunk materials in all my classes. “Tell Them We Remember” is a text book that gives a short and simple history of Jewish experiences before, during and after the Holocaust.  We had posters and maps on the walls, computer programs students could do on their own, free reading time when they could choose some of the many books from the Trunk.  One year some of the 8th grade girls had not time to finish “The Cage” – a true story about a girl their own age.  So they kept pleading with us until we bought a classroom set of the book for own school.

The students were always very excited when the Trunk was coming – someone was always on the lookout to see when it was actually arriving.  And when it was time to send it back they were quite sad.  Middle school can be a difficult age for students, but they are also empathetic and sympathetic.

The Gulf Coast Center has an art, essay and poetry contest each year and students’ work is displayed and read at the Yom Ha Shoah service – (April 23 this year).  Reading and seeing these exhibits, I am always very impressed by how deeply they feel and how able they are to express what they have learned.

One of the best compliments I got was from a 7th grade boy who asked me, “Are you Jewish?”  When I said “No,” he said, “Why do you care so much?”  I think and hope that our students also learn to “care so much,” as a result of their Holocaust study.  Even after the students have left school, I’ve had the privilege of meeting several who remember the lessons of the Holocaust.

One young lady who studied the Holocaust in my class in the 7th grade – now a teacher herself – brings her parents every year to many of the films at the Jewish film festival.  Recently a young gentleman – just a brand new father – asked me, “Do you still get the Holocaust Trunk at St. Dominic?  I’ve never forgotten those lessons.  I hope you keep teaching it.”  It is heartwarming to see the lasting effects of our teaching.

So thank you again for this award, for the opportunities you made possible for me and for all the ways you support the work of the Gulf Coast Center.  I’d also like to thank the whole Jewish community.  You have always been welcoming to me and I feel accepted when I attend your celebrations, study, parties, holy days, etc.  You have enriched my life.  Thank you.

Anne Maher rsm
US Province

 

 

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