According to Orthodox Union Executive Vice President, "We are devastated by the loss of so many of Israel’s soldiers, our best and brightest, idealistic young people who have chosen to give their lives to defend their people. The pictures of the fallen that have greeted us daily shock us. How can those images of beaming, shining, beautiful faces be telling such a tragic story?"

"The pain experienced by their families, the widows, orphans, and bereaved parents and siblings, is unfathomable. The loss to their friends, to their communities, and to Am Yisrael, is incalculable. We have lost precious souls taken from us in the prime of their lives.

"We are overwhelmed with grief at today’s news of the deaths of 21 soldiers in a single event, 24 soldiers in a single day.

"Their comrades in TZAHAL will continue their heroic work in defense of the Jewish people and the Jewish state, while the rest of us, אחיכם כל בית ישראל יבכו את השריפה אשר שרף ד', their brothers and sisters throughout the Jewish world join their families in mourning their tragic loss.

"Our debt to the fallen can never be repaid. Their memories will live on as they have inspired all of us by their literal mesirut nefesh, self-sacrifice for their people. We will redouble our efforts of support and prayer on behalf of the soldiers of TZAHAL.

"May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our soldiers from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor. May He bring our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant our soldiers salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your G[-]d, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you."


As we approach International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Chapman University is eager to illuminate the 25th anniversary of the Holocaust Art & Writing Contest, one of the world’s largest efforts to keep the Holocaust memory alive in schools. The efforts resonate with recent research revealing critical gaps in Holocaust knowledge.

Why This is Important Locally and Globally: Ongoing Concerns: A 2023 report by Tel Aviv University and the Anti-Defamation League highlights a continued rise in antisemitic crimes in the U.S. Research Insights: the latest research from ADL’s Center for Antisemitism Research (CAR) links deficiencies in Holocaust education to heightened antisemitic beliefs, emphasizing the urgent need for global awareness.

Alarming Statistics: Basic Holocaust knowledge is severely lacking, with nearly 6 out of 10 Americans under 30 unable to accurately identify the number of Jews killed. (CAR) Global Education Gap: Only 25 U.S. states and nine countries worldwide currently mandate Holocaust education. (CAR)

Congressional Action: The 117th Congress (2021-2022) passed H.R.3515 — the Preventing Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act.

Chapman’s Impact: Holocaust Art & Writing Contest: A 25-year initiative by the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and the 1939 Society, the contest stands as one of the world’s largest efforts to preserve Holocaust memory with more than 5,000 students from over 100 public, parochial and private schools participating each year. The students engage with the survivor's testimony in its historical context and craft thoughtful and artistic responses.

Global Reach: In 2023, participation spanned 250 institutions across 32 states and 10 countries, with Poland hosting the largest group of schools. From Southern California to across the world 150,000 students have been reached; 2,000 educators engaged; 45 participating states, and 25 participating countries over the last 25 years.

Marilyn Harran’s Insights: Marilyn Harran, Stern Chair in Holocaust Education and Director of the Rodgers Center, has played a critical role in spreading awareness. A professor of history and religious studies, she helped honor Holocaust survivors for the last 25 years with the annual Art & writing contest.
Quotes & Interview Opportunities:

“The students who participated in this year’s contest give us hope at a time when we very much need it,” Harran said. “Their entries affirm the power of memory and the strength of love not only during the Holocaust, but today as well. They also remind us of our responsibility to share our love and support with those in need, here at home and abroad.” - Marilyn Harran, Stern Chair in Holocaust Education and Director of the Rodgers Center.
“There are so many different people who are touched by this contest,” she said. “It builds empathy in students. Because sometimes I think high school students are [very] unempathetic, like little kids. And we need to fix that.” - Abigail Stephens ‘26 (a student whose life has been profoundly impacted by the program).
The 25th Holocaust Art & Writing Contest will take place on March 15, 2024.

The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.  The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, initially a single course, has grown into a comprehensive program within a private university, making it a standout in the United States. Beyond traditional classroom instruction, the center enriches students’ academic experiences with a diverse co-curricular program, offering lecture series. These events serve as a platform for esteemed scholars, visionary filmmakers, inspiring Holocaust survivors, and advocates for justice and human rights to share their insights and stories. The Holocaust Memorial Library, with permanent and rotating exhibits, sheds light on the individual lives affected and tragically lost during the Holocaust, featuring photographs, documents, oral histories, and a notable collection that includes a first edition of The Diary of Anne Frank in Dutch, along with reference materials supporting Holocaust research in its historical context.

Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a nationally ranked private university in Orange, California, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. Chapman serves nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, with a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students can choose from 123 areas of study within 11 colleges for a personalized education. Chapman is categorized by the Carnegie Classification as an R2 "high research activity" institution. Students at Chapman learn directly from distinguished world-class faculty including Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur fellows, published authors and Academy Award winners.The campus has produced a Rhodes Scholar, been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars and hosts a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. Chapman also includes the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine. The university features the No. 4 film school and No. 60 business school in the U.S.

                                                                        RABBI'S CORNER               



This week’s Torah portion begins (Ex. 15:1) "Az Yashir Moshe". These words are usually translated "Then Moses sang", though literally they mean "Then Moses will sing".  In the Talmud the future tense of the verse indicates "Then (thereafter) Moses will sing", i.e. in the future messianic era. Rashi suggests that the verse combines past and future; when he saw the miraculous redemption at the Red Sea, he thought he would sing a song about it in the future. Others say we are dealing with a strange Hebrew grammatical form which, though it looks like future tense, refers to history, i.e. to events in the past tense.


The Bible is not sure that Miriam herself sang at the Sea, but Dead Sea texts say she did. In the Torah, Moses says "ashirah", "I sing"; Miriam tells the women, "Shiru" "(You) sing!" Possibly the women responded with the words beginning with "ashirah".

The text says "Vata’an", literally "she answered" (verse 21), but the root "ayin-nun-heh" cannot mean "to answer", unless there is a preceding statement to which to respond (e.g. Deut. 26:5, 21:7, 27:14-15; II Kings 1:11, I Chron. 12:18); hence it means "to utter" (here, "in song") or "to chant".

Targum Pseudo-Yonatan renders "vata’an" as "v’zamrat", "she sang". Mekhilta Shirata says, "As Moses recited the song for the men, so Miriam recited the song for the women" (JZ Lauterbach’s translation). In Ex. 32:18, "anot" is "tune" or "song". In I Sam. 18:7, "vata’anennah hanashim" is, "and the women sang". Gersonides says they sang a one-verse precis; Chiz’kuni agrees that the Torah gave a precis.

In Onkelos and Peshitta, "vata’an" is "ume’anya", "and she answered", i.e. the women responded to Moses’s lead. Malbim says that the women insisted on singing as a contribution to the redemption.


Chapter 16 verse 3 of Sh’mot – part of this week’s reading of the Torah – reports that the fleeing Israelites complained in the wilderness that life had become too difficult.

"When we sat by the flesh pots," they said in recollection of life in Egypt, "we ate bread to the full". It seems that in Egypt they had to cook the meat for their masters but they were not permitted to eat it. So their task was limited to warming their bread on the vapour of the roasting meat. They enjoyed the savoury smell even if they got no actual meat. In the wilderness they didn’t even get any meat vapour.


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