Finals of the XI International competition of creative works at the Menorah Center

On September 28-29, the Menorah Center hosted the finals of the XI International competition of creative works entitled “Lessons of wars and the Holocaust are the lessons of tolerance”, organized by the Tkuma Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies and the Jewish Memory and the Holocaust in Ukraine Museum with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

Throughout the year, pupils, students and teachers who had decided to participate in the contest, were sending in their understanding of “the lessons of wars and the Holocaust,” which they had reflected in the research and multimedia, poetry and essays, drawings and vytynankas.

This year, the contest received 353 works, including 4 from the neighboring countries. However, only 34 works were included in the finals, as recognized the best by the supervisory board. The authors of these projects were invited to Kiev, where they submitted their designs to the authoritative jury. Dr. Tamara Bacca, Dr. Faina Vinokourova, prof. Alexander Davletov, prof. Tatiana Ladichenko, Dr. Tatiana Meleschenko, Svetlana Poddubnaya and Dr. Igor Shchupak took on this uneasy task to determine the winners. The discussion of the projects was also attended by the invited guests from abroad: Dr. Robert Tatoyan (Yerevan, Armenia), prof. Malhaz Tsirekidze (Telavi, Georgia), Dr. Irina Shikhova (Chisinau, Moldova), and others.

Participants noted this year’s competition theme had a special actuality. Today, as there is a war in Ukraine, it’s time to ask oneself: what are the lessons we have learned from the history of our people and what tolerance means to us? Questions of war and peace, sacrifice and betrayal, courage and cowardice are acute for every citizen of Ukraine, regardless of age or nationality.

The finalists of the competition examined historical dilemma of understanding between peoples, identifying national aspects through the prism of current events. Therefore, there was a lot of personal in their projects. Strong emotions and deep feelings were especially reflected in the creative works.

Maybe that’s why the words of the ninth grader Anastasia Protchenko felt so soulful: “Now I know how the war looks like”.  That’s how she entitled her essay, and that’s how she feels. This work helped her win the second place among the students in the “creative skills” nomination. Along with her, the second place was shared by Anna Usik (grade 10, Dnepropetrovsk) with an art project, “We remember …”.  The third place was taken by Alexander Lukin (grade 10, Krivoy Rog), who had written the short story “To stay human” and Sofia Sokolovskaya (grade 11, Artemovsk) with the project entitled “Artemovsk tragedy during the war”. The first place was shared by three participants. Svetlana Predko (grade 10, Dnepropetrovsk) created an art project “The world is in your hands”. Through the yellow-and-blue vitinanky the young craftslady sends thoughts and emotions of awareness of the Holodomor and the Holocaust. Another winner, Anastasia Pavlova (grade 11, Dnepropetrovsk), put together a series of drawings, “We remember”.  12 works depict the history of the great Jewish family during the Holocaust. This collective image shows all the tragic moments through which the Jews had come through: the deportation, ghetto, death camps. The drawings also reflected the rescue of the Jewish children by the Righteous among the Nations. The first place was also taken by Veronica Kobzeva (grade 10, Krivoy Rog). She called her art work “got the numbers”. On the drawing through a terrible figure – six million – one can see victims’ faces. The author embodied in her work the concept of “humanization of history”, showing that there are people’s lives behind each heartless figure.

Participants of the contest made a strong emphasis on regional history in their projects: they had investigated the memory of the war, the Holocaust and the Holodomor and the territory of their towns and villages, collected eyewitness accounts. The first place in the category “An Exploratory Study” was divided between Elizaveta Bula (grade 10, Donetsk) with the work “Paths of the Holocaust in Donetsk region” and Ruslan Lysenko (grade 11, v. Prudy, Kiev region) with a regional study “Ukrainian Ostarbaiters” (based on materials from Kagarlitsky district of Kiev region). The second place was taken by Olga Lavrynovych (grade 10 v. Globa, Volyn region) with the work “The Holocaust on Kovelschina: general trends and regional characteristics” and Elizaveta Bordunova (grade 10, Krivoy Rog), representing the work “Formation and development of secondary and higher education of Jews in the South West region of the Russian Empire (XIX – early XX centuries)”. The third place in this category was taken by Timur Gura (grade 11, Dnepropetrovsk), with the topic “Soviet periodicals on the establishment of the state of Israel through the example of “The Pravda” newspaper, Michael Bohun (grade 10, Krivoy Rog), with the theme of his work “Memories and their role in the investigation of the events of the Great Patriotic War”, and Vitaly Nikiforenko (grade 10, Krivoy Rog), with the theme of the work “The fate of Yuri Sych”.

Teachers also presented their multimedia projects. Oleg Ryzhyy (Khmelnitsky) took the second place in the category “Multimedia technology” with his multi-media teaching aids “Holocaust in Bukovina (documents and materials)”. The first place was won by Yuri Burdinsky (Sharhorod, Vinnytsia region) with his documentary film “one soul saved – saved the world … No 11345”.

The winners received prizes. Although the participation in the finals of the competition itself can be considered a reward. Organizers always plan an interesting and rich program, including excursions, exploring the well-known scientific and public figures, round tables and discussions. This year was no exception.

Timed to the Day of Remembrance of the victims of Babi Yar, the finals took place simultaneously with the commemorations joined by the contestants. Ceremony of Remembrance of the victims of Babi Yar, the opening of the exhibition “Dictatorship and democracy in the age of extremes”, the round table “Studying the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust in modern warfare against Ukraine”, the opening of the hall with a collection of watches “Watches have seen time”: this is not yet a full list of the events visited by pupils, students and teachers, who came to attend the finals of the competition.