By sculpting a raised arm emerging from a solid piece of marble, Jennifer Goldberg sought, through her art, to stress resistance rather than suffering.
"When you see a lot of the Holocaust, it's people being victims," said Goldberg, 16, who just finished her sophomore year at Akiba Hebrew Academy in Merion Station. "I was trying to show something that represented someone fighting back."
Her entry, "The Will of JO72419," won first place in the ninth and 10th grade three-dimensional art category at this year's Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition.
Both of Goldberg's maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors and her depiction was partly inspired by her grandfather Gerson Parzen, who is also her namesake. The large, rust-colored, clay arm holds the same number that was tattooed into Parzen's arm by the Nazis – or at least as much of it as Goldberg's family could remember.
Goldberg received her award at a ceremony June 5 at the Moore College of Art and Design in Center City. Judges had earlier assessed the art works and read essays by high school students from 22 different public, private and parochial schools in the Philadelphia area, then picked the winners. The contest was once again sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Coucil of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Auerbach Central Agency for Jewish Education.
In the 11-12 grade three-dimensional art competition, Darian Pearlmutter of Upper Dublin High School won first place for her depiction of scenes of happiness contrasted with the ultimate horrors Jews were forced to endure in the Holocaust.
Costas Mavroudis of Central High School in Philadelphia won first place in the two-dimensional ninth and 10th grade art competition for his cartoonish Nazi soldier called "The Bonds of Intolerance." For the 11th and 12th grade two-dimensional category, Margarita Dorfman from Central won for her painting "Through the Eyes of a Child."
Writing prizes were given for both poetry and prose. Dominique De Leon, a sophomore at Central, took first prize in the ninth and 10th grade poetry category for "No Children at Auschwitz," which explains that children should play and live happily and be carefree, not have to face the reality of a concentration camp. Each verse ends with the refrain "We are not children."
In the 11th and 12th grade poetry competition, Sophy Saunders-Pappentick, also from Central, won for comparing a victim to a bright, shining star in the solar system that has been sucked into a black hole and eventually extinguished.
Chris Keys, from Central, took home the top prize for ninth and 10th grade prose writing for his "Whisper of the Trees," which tells of an old man remembering back to his escape from a concentration camp.
Emily Farrell of Strath Haven High School in Wallingford won first place in the 11th and 12th grade prose category. Her story, "The Secret," also features an aging Holocaust victim remembering back to the abominations of concentration camp life. After he remembers a horrific scene where he watched his brother being murdered by Nazi guards, he decides that it is finally time to tell his own story.
A music award was given to Michelle Grisillo and Katie Woodward, seniors at Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr, while a dance award went to the Council Rock-North Dance Company of Newtown for their performance piece titled "Hope Prevails."
Student winners received bonds as prizes: $150 for first place, $100 for second and $75 for third place. Honorable mention winners received books related to the Holocaust.
Students weren't the only award recipients. Laura Lyn Stern, who is Goldberg's art teacher at Akiba, received the 2006 Nora Levin Holocaust Educator Award.