The following essay on Dale Chihuly was written by Lana Schwartz, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; an example of this can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as his/her self confidence and overall maturity.
When I was told that I had to write a paper on a hero or role model, I only had one person in mind: My personal role model since the age of eight, Anne Frank. Anne was a German-Jewish girl forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust for two years with her family and four other people. She kept a diary describing her experiences and feelings.
When I was in second grade, my parents introduced me to Anne Frank. I had already seen “The Sound Of Music” and wanted to know more about the Holocaust. My parents introduced me to parts of the diary to give me a young Jewish girl to connect with. I didn’t read the whole diary, they just read parts to me and when I had questions, they were able to answer. I felt a huge connection with her the minute that I opened the biography, “Who Was Anne Frank?” On the first page, after the dedications, there was a picture of her. I was amazed by how much we look alike. She, like me, had black hair, hazel eyes, and she was Jewish. She seems to have been just a regular kid like me, and was working through her feelings as both a Jew and a person. As I read, I noticed that our connections kept growing, and not just our looks, but also about our values.
Anne always spoke her mind, and liked attention. She loved making people laugh, and she was very mature for her age. Her teachers called her a little comedian. She knew exactly who she was from a very young age. She also loved performing in school plays.
Anne Frank was very passionate about her friends and family, just like I am. She enjoyed laughing and found the humor in almost every situation, which is what I try to do. And artistic expression was very important to Anne. In her diary she expressed all of her emotions, and poured her heart into beautiful sentences and stanzas, like this one, “Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”
The dictionary defines a hero as a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character. To me, a hero is somebody who cares so passionately about something that they’re willing to do anything for it. In my opinion Anne fits the second definition, which is why she is a hero in my eyes.
A role model is someone you look up to. I look up to Anne Frank because she stood up for something she believes in. Even if actions speak louder than words, in my opinion, words have more meaning and emotion than actions. And Anne used her words, and wrote in her diary, which was later published, and touched the lives of millions. So, to me, Anne is both a hero and a role model.
Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. At that time, the Nazi party had begun to take over Germany, and by 1933, they began to persecute and detain Jewish citizens. Jews weren’t allowed to go to school or have personal privacy, and they had to sew a yellow star onto all their clothing to show that they were Jewish. So Anne and her family were forced to move to Holland, now called the Netherlands.
In May, 1940 Holland was taken over by the Nazis causing big changes for Anne and the rest of her family. When Anne’s sister, Margot, received a call-up for a German work camp on July 5, 1942, Otto and Edith, Anne’s parents, decided that the dangers had become too great. They took their family into hiding in the secret annex they prepared months before. It was attached to a building that her father owned. Upstairs, behind a moveable bookcase, eight people lived in very tight quarters. They had only the bare essentials and couldn’t make any noise during the day. They lived like this for two years.
Something I really admire about Anne Frank is her optimism. She always believed in the good of people and that everything would turn out okay. Even when she had to switch out of her non-Jewish school, she made the best of it, and when she was taken to the annex, she didn’t make a fuss about it.
When Anne was in the annex, she always looked for a bit of sky, for a bit of positivity in her day. Even when her world was crumbling around her, and there was fighting and tension inside the annex, as well as outside, she still kept on believing that everything would turn out well in the end. She always said, “Everything is all right.” She said how lucky her family was to even have a place to hide, compared to those who have nothing to protect them.
Anne said, “The annex is an ideal place to hide in. It may be damp and lopsided, but there’s probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No, in all of Holland.” One day, I hope to be as optimistic.
Anne was also a very courageous person. Writing all of her feelings in a diary is a very courageous thing to do. She’s been called the human face of the Holocaust. Anne’s words helped millions of people understand the events of the Holocaust by writing down her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She has contributed to our understanding of all of the pain and heartbreak of this time period. Listening to bombs and sirens while she was trying to sleep was a lot to endure, but Anne Frank went on still trying to live as normal a life as possible.
Education was also important to Anne and the rest of her family. When she was in the annex, she and her sister were always reading books and constantly learning. It was very important to Anne to get a good education, even though she knew it would be hard to get a job as a Jew. She hoped when the war was over, she would be able to get a job. I admire her wanting to better herself, even when the odds were stacked against her.
As I mentioned earlier, Anne had a sense of humor, and even through the hardships, and the impossible situation she lived in, she found a way to still find humor in her life in the annex. Part of humor is sarcasm and she was able to express that in her diary. When Mr. Dussel arrived, the last person to move into the annex, Anne prepared a humorous guide to the secret annex for him. The Nazis may have been able to take over the outside world, but they were not able to take away her words and enter her mind.
Tragically, Anne and the others were captured by the Nazi party and taken to concentration camps. Anne, her sister and mother died in the concentration camp. Her father was able to retrieve the diary from one of the people who helped them hide and arranged to have it published. Her diary has become so important all over the world. South African president Nelson Mandela said, “Some of us read Anne Frank’s diary on Robben Island and derived much encouragement of it.”
Anne Frank is very important to me, from her artistic expression to her courage, determination, humor, education, and optimism. Reading her words inspires me to care more, to be a better person, to not let things discourage me, and to persevere. Anne Frank truly is an amazing person and I am so glad that I was able to share with you how much she means to me.