Temple Emanu-El Spreads Seeds of Holocaust Education

Temple Emanu-El Spreads Seeds of Holocaust Education

The synagogue coordinated with five area middle and high schools to host commemorative plantings as part of The Daffodil Project.

A group of students plant daffodils at Johns Creek High School
A group of students plant daffodils at Johns Creek High School

Have you ever noticed how the open petals of daffodils resemble a Star of David?

The leadership at Atlanta-based The Daffodil Project (daffodilproject.net) capitalized on the imagery to recall how Jews were forced to wear Stars of David on their clothing during the Holocaust.

As a result, daffodils have bloomed into a meaningful metaphor in countering antisemitism.

Founded in 2010 by Atlanta-based Andrea Videlefsky, The Daffodil Project “aspires to build a worldwide Living Holocaust Memorial. The project goal is to plant 1.5 million daffodils in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust and in support for children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today. To date, it supported the planting of over 960,000 daffodils in 571 locations worldwide.”

Students gather around Holocaust survivor Herschel Greenblatt after a daffodil planting at Mount Vernon Middle School

The project implements its vision by working with global partners including synagogues, churches, schools (elementary, middle, high schools, and universities), city parks and botanical gardens. In Sandy Springs, the Reform Jewish Congregation Temple Emanu-El became an active partner of The Daffodil Project in 2015 and has planted more than 2,000 daffodils, according to its committee leader Lori Bohrer. Temple Emanu-El teen leader, Avi Frank, has shown great leadership at daffodil plantings at Temple Emanu-El and at Centennial High School.

“Our focus is to combat antisemitism and spread the message of tolerance for all by planting daffodils because they represent our poignant hope for the future,” Bohrer told the AJT.  “They are resilient and return with a burst of color each spring signifying hope, renewal, and beauty. As part of the synagogue’s multi-faceted initiative to combat antisemitism, it’s our commitment to bring the Daffodil Project to at least five new schools each year. For example, this past fall, we held daffodil planting events at Mt. Vernon Middle School with Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat, Paul Duke STEM High School with survivor Ilse Reiner, Johns Creek High School, Hightower Trail Middle School, Peachtree Middle School, and North Springs High School. What is so gratifying is what occurred after Mr. Greenblat’s presentation late one morning. The class’s students filed into the school cafeteria for lunch and noticed that he was there. They surrounded him and were eager to ask even more questions.”

Bohrer continued, “We are working with schools in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties. Our committee makes the initial contact with the schools. Sometimes it involves a committee member or another congregant to make an introduction to the school. This part of the process takes time and often involves relationship building.

Students at Hightower Trail Middle School are pictured after planting a memorial daffodil garden // Photo Credit: Lori Bohrer

“Our work is meaningful and results from Andrea Videlefsky’s vision, along with our synagogue’s dedicated committee members Jessica Goldberg, Gerri Penn, Patti Lipsey, Beth Liess, Jeff Jacobson, as well as congregants Julie Mokotoff, Wendy Frank, Stephen Blick, and wife, Beth Blick. The Daffodil Project gives us the opportunity to educate younger generations on the lessons of the Holocaust.”

More information on the organization is available at www.daffodilproject.net/ or worldwidedaffodilproject@gmail.com.

Lori Bohrer contributed to this report.

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