At the end of every semester, Heller High runs a photo contest – providing the students with an opportunity to share photos from their time in Israel. These photos could be anything that symbolizes their experience on the program, including pictures from trips around the country and to Poland, landscapes and nature, and those that feature their everyday life at Tzuba. This semester, Eden Franco won first place in the photo contest because of her photo at the last remaining part of the Warsaw Ghetto. Shaina Morrel came in second place with her photo of the view at the Gadna base. Marlo Sgro was a runner-up with her photo of the Kinneret landscape. The winners all described the inspiration for their photos below.
“When I approached the last remaining wall of the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn’t know what to say. It’s a crazy thing to learn about the history of such a traumatic event, but it’s even crazier to go to the place that it happened. My friend and I were holding hands, squeezing each other. I said to her, “Hey, put your hand on the wall. I wanna get a picture.” And she did, and the picture was born. The picture, to me, symbolizes the beauty and tragedy that remains at the Warsaw Ghetto. During the Holocaust, it probably wasn’t likely that Jews placed their hand upon that wall in amazement of the beauty and recognition of the past; they were trying to break it down and get out. The picture represents the fact that the we are only touching the surface of what really happened. The black and white effect gives the picture an older feel, which represents the time in history in which the Warsaw Ghetto wall existed. “
“It was the second to last night of the semester at URJHeller High. I was taking a nightly stroll when I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the sky. All of a sudden the sunset was gleaming- I was drawn into the depth of the rolling hills and clear water of the Kinneret. But the one thing that caught my eye – was the cotton candy sky.”
“This photo was taken where we had Gadna at the base of Sde Boker. The photo was inspired simply by my utter amazement of the Negev and it’s beauty. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing (and at Gadna that was a lot) but when we had even just a few minutes for a break, I loved to go and look around at where I was and be reminded of how incredible the experience was when you took a step back. I also think that the rusted fence contrasted with the road and beautiful desert view in the distance was something really special and unique. A special memory I have from my Gadna experience was on one of the last nights, our commander (who we all absolutely adored) broke character and opened up to us. We sat around in a circle having the most amazing discussions about the week and of big topics in general that made all of us think. She told us at the end that we really touched her heart and that she learned so much from our group and really loved us. It was a challenging week, but turned out to be so much fun for all of us and a really great bonding experience for the group.”
Eden Franco is a rising junior from Port Washington, New York. She belongs to the Community Synagogue and is involved in the youth group. In addition, Eden is a member of NFTY-NAR and has attended Eisner Camp.
Shay Morrel is a rising senior from Sterling, Massachusetts. She belongs to Beth El Temple, is a member of NFTY-NE and was a madricha in the religious school. Shaina also attended URJ Crane Lake for the past eight years.
Marlo Sgro is a rising senior from Orinda, California. She belongs to Temple Isaiah, is a member of NFTY- CWR and regularly participates in social justice events.