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Finally, our museum concludes with the creation and development of the modern State of Israel. From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle. We follow the course of Israeli history since 1948, from the War of Independence to the Six-Day War to the Yom Kippur War to the current Gaza-Israeli conflict. All too many people look at Israel and see a war zone. We instead highlight the virtue of Israeli courage, the monumental hope and belief that is conveyed through the national anthem of “Hatikvah” – literally, the hope. Israel is the culmination of years of prayer and passion; fighting, yes, but mostly joy. As the museum draws to a close, the visitor is led toward a reconstruction of the Kotel, the seemingly simple Western Wall that brims with the aspirations and dreams of the Jewish people.

This year, our eleventh grade class wondered “now what?” We were commemorating the war, we were mourning the lives lost, but we wanted to take action to ensure a better future. Now, we intend to come full circle and literally pay it forward. In recognition of the 1.5 million children lost during the Holocaust, we are launching an initiative to collect 1.5 million pennies. These pennies, amounting to approximately $15,000, will be donated to three separate charities that support modern-day Jewish children throughout three stages of life. First, we will give to Crib Efrat, an organization that provides an expectant mother with the funds necessary to support her child through the first year of life. Next, Bet Elazraki, an organization which provides a “home away from home” for children with precarious family life situations. Lastly, we will be contributing a portion of our funds to educational scholarships. The children lost in the Holocaust never had a chance to complete their educations; today, thousands of children may forgo a formal education simply because their parents cannot pay the tuition bill. By preserving the education of the next generation of Jewish children, we are in essence safeguarding the continuity of the Jewish people as a whole.

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This museum would never have been possible without my four outstanding docents, each of whom coordinated the design of her section from beginning to end. Meira Leiter created the road to war segment, Kayla Garb the actual war, Devora Berman the aftermath, and Esther Seif the Israel section. They all put in tremendous effort, and their creativity and artistic flair has enhanced the museum immeasurably.

I would also like to thank the Bruriah administration for supporting this project and allowing us to literally commandeer the school hallways for a couple of weeks. A big thank you to Mr. Joel Glazer, who dreamed up this project in the first place and managed to turn it into a reality.

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Avigail is her class president, serves as a weekly columnist for the school newspaper, Soundbytes, writes for Bruriah’s Israel-publication, Libi Bamizrach, and is a member of AISAC (American Israel Student Affairs Committee). She lives in Bergenfield, NJ and, along with her family, belongs to Congregation Beth Abraham.

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