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Young people keep past stories alive for Holocaust Memorial Day

By Daniel Jarvis

This January Manchester Jewish Museum’s third Trailblazer sees nine young people aged 16-18 become Creative Activists to create powerful acts of sharing and connection as they explore and share stories to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday 27 January, inspired by real life stories past and present.

Responding to this years’ Holocaust Memorial Day theme, ‘Light the Darkness’, the nine activists from King David High School, Crumpsall, have been uncovering stories from the Museum’s own extensive archives, their own family histories and from speaking to Cheetham Hill residents about their own experiences and responses to Holocaust Memorial Day.

Working with theatre practitioner Kate Bradnam and the Museum’s Creative Producers Dara Laughlin and Dr Laura Seddon, these nine young activists will weave together these stories to create their own commemorative artworks, filming their process and telling the stories behind each creation. These artworks and films will then be gifted to community partners from Cheetham Hill in an act of sharing and passing on these stories and celebrating those lives.

These hidden stories, which will be included in the final film, include that of Hilde Davidsohn who fled Berlin and leaving her sister and mother behind and came to Manchester on a domestic visa, never to see her family again.  Young activist Rivky will be commemorating her story by sculpting a bust of Hilde with a concealed speaker inside. Another activist, Beila, will be creating a sculpture of commemorative stones to celebrate Leicester Road in Cheetham Hill which became home to many Jewish refugees, and was where Beila herself lived when her family first moved to Manchester.

Image credit: Hilde Davidsohn and her mother in Berlin, courtesy of Manchester Jewish Museum.

Creative Activist Rivky talks about why keeping hidden stories alive is so important to her: “I think it’s special that we memorialise the people we don’t have much information on, as they are the ones who would be more ignored.”

On Thursday 28 January, the day following Holocaust Memorial Day, the Museum will share the final film of these young people’s journeys and the stories they have shared through their website, social media and YouTube channel. This act of sharing and connection is at the heart of the new Museum and its mission to connect Jewish stories to the world in order to explore both our differences and similarities and to celebrate that which makes people unique and which connects us all.

Creative Activist Poppy shows the stages of creating her stones reflecting the stories and journeys in our archives

Creative Activist Rivky has sculpted a bust of Hilde Davidsohn who fled Berlin to move to Manchester, leaving her mother and sister behind her.

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