By Mira Tappenden
On Wednesday, April 19th, 2023, through the generous support and coordination by Calgary Jewish Federation’s Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education department, grade 7 and 8 students had the opportunity to attend a special viewing of Mona Golabek’s performance titled The Children of Willesden Lane, a one woman show by Grammy nominated, internationally acclaimed concert pianist Mona Golabek, illustrating how music can bring light and hope to even the darkest of times. This lent itself beautifully to the students’ learning and understanding of The Holocaust, as it was a moving story of strength, perseverance, and survival through the integration and influence of music.
CJA students were lucky enough to sit front and centre at the hour-long performance and were captivated from the moment Mona set food on the stage until she answered the final question following her performance. Having the opportunity to extend learning outside the classroom to hear first- and second-hand stories of survival is invaluable to students’ learning and development of an appreciation for our rich history and strength as a people who have overcome so much adversity.
Our goal is for students to understand the responsibility that is being passed onto them and future generations to keep these stories alive, despite the dwindling numbers of living survivors. Stories such as Mona’s, telling that of her mother, Lisa Jura, remind us that although these accounts are unfathomable and heart-wrenching, they are real and true accounts that must never be forgotten. Being able to connect with such a moving story is key for students to make their own connection to a history that they often feel removed from, and Mona was able to do just that.