Relating the past to the present: Holocaust Commission welcomes 2017 student competitions

by | Feb 10, 2017 | What’s Happening

The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is well into its 2017 Elie Wiesel Student Writing & Visual Arts Competitions, as the Feb. 15 deadline approaches for the writing and multimedia divisions. Visual Art will be accepted Monday, Feb. 27–Friday, March 10.

This is the 20th year the Commission has invited students to enter the writing competition and the 15th year for visual arts. 2017 will be the first year that the competitions are in memory of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate, and prolific author who died last July.

Open to middle and high school students, competition categories include poetry, essay, two and three-dimensional art, and multimedia. Each year, the commission receives more than 1,500 entries from area students, and, more recently— thanks to an online presence, out of state and foreign entries. Expected this year are at least two entries from India.

Winners in each category receive cash prizes, recognition at the annual community Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Day of Remembrance, program, this year to be held at Ohef Sholom Temple on April 23, and, if an art winner, a place in the annual Holocaust Commission student art exhibition.

Educators, too, can be winners in the competitions. Teachers who submit student entries can receive incentives, such as classroom sets of books and gift certificates for art supplies.

The 2017 Elie Wiesel competitions ask students to frame their entries in response to a series of thought-provoking questions connecting lessons of the Holocaust to present day situations and moral decisions. This year, the questions focus on Elie Wiesel’s writings and experiences.

The Commission believes that by learning about the Holocaust and applying its lessons to their lives, students can gain an understanding of the true nature of moral courage. They will realize the dangers of all types of prejudice, peer pressure, and unthinking obedience to authority, and are aware of what happens when there is indifference to the suffering of others. With the issues facing students today on the current events and political landscape, having a strong moral compass is critical.

In addition to its Elie Wiesel Competitions, the Holocaust Commission is in the middle of the return of Through the Eyes of a Friend, a dramatic performance with a limited run from February 6 through February 17. The calendar is full of new and repeat customers for this sought after play. More than 5,200 students are expected to see the acclaimed multimedia theatrical presentation based on Anne’ Frank’s brief, yet famous, life.

Remind teachers and students to enter the 2017 Elie Wiesel Student Competitions. Can’t find the forms? Download them at Individual students may also enter without a sponsoring teacher. For more information, contact