Paper Clips (film & discussion) - Mar 6 at Filene Hall, Skidmore College (2:30pm)
Paper Clips presented by Jewish Community Arts and co-sponsored by Saratoga community churches, synagogues and Skidmore office for Jewish Student Life
Norwegians invented the paper clip. The citizens of Norway later used it as a discreet symbol of solidarity against the Nazis by wearing the paperclip on their lapels as a sign of patriotism and resistance against Nazi tyranny during the war years.
Fast forward to 1998 when out of a desire to help students open their eyes to the diversity of the world beyond their insulated rural valley of Whitwell, Tennessee, the school’s principal, Linda Hooper, created the “Paper Clip” project to help her students grasp the enormity of human suffering during the Holocaust. Whitwell had no Jews, no Catholics, one Hispanic and five African- Americans. By the time the project was completed, the horizons of the population had widened considerably.
The idea to collect the paper clips was born when a student at Whitwell Middle School asked, “What is six million? I’ve never seen that before” - a reference to the six million European Jews who perished in the Nazi campaign during World War II. Hooper and her colleagues suggested that it might help the students to visualize the staggering number of Jewish and other victims of the Holocaust by finding an object to collect. The students did some research and discovered the Norwegian paperclip piece of the story.
David Smith, one of the teachers involved, says he knew he was stereotyped as a Southerner, and admits that he stereotyped Northerners. In changing their perceptions about minorities, the students of Whitwell also changed perceptions others may have held about them. That America has frequently been people living everywhere; in a time of divisiveness, there is something innocently captivating about the paper clip project, which transforms an ordinary mountain of paper clips into a small town’s moving gesture.
Letters were sent to news organizations and to famous people, asking them to contribute paper clips to help the students reach their goal of 6 million. Celebrities contributed clips and businesses sent masses of them. Then the Washington Post and “NBC Nightly News” picked up the story. In a matter of months, the school collected 24 million paper clips….a number which eventually grew to 29 million and 25,000 pieces of mail from all over the globe. They came in boxes and in envelopes with letters to tell their story of specific people lost in the Holocaust. Each subsequent 8th grade class picked up the project.
“The project soon took on a life of its own” says Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of Saratoga Jewish Arts and President of Temple Sinai. “Holocaust survivors came to give first-hand accounts, a German husband and wife journalist team from Germany become frequent guests, eventually setting out to find a German railroad car to serve as permanent repository for the paper clips and to double as a memorial and museum”.
Paper Clips began as a lesson about prejudice….What happened next was a miracle. An inspiring and award winning documentary shows how even small-town students and educators can teach the world powerful lessons. It is a straightforward film which takes viewers from the initial stages of the project through to its fruition with the likes of Tom Hanks, George W. Bush, Steven Spielberg, Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton and many German citizens.
Linda Bertrand a retired middle school teacher from Saratoga was touched by the story and found herself traveling to Whitwell to meet the teacher who inspired this project and see the results for herself. Linda will comment on her trip following the film with a panel to further discuss the communal potential of this project.
Panel members will include panel discussion to include Lollie Abamson, Coordinator of Jewish Student Life and Interfaith Programming; Linda Bertrand, retired teacher and congregant of Congregation Shaara Tfille; Rev. Joseph Cleveland, Unitarian Universalist Church; Rabbi Linda Motzkin, Temple Sinai; Gabriel Snyder, Skidmore Student; and Heather Williams, United Methodist Church.
The program will be held on Sunday March 6 at 2:30 P.M. at Filene Hall, Skidmore College. Dessert reception to follow. Donations Accepted. For reservations, please email email@example.com or call 518-584-8730, opt. 2.
Paper Clips began as a lesson about prejudice….What happened next was a miracle. An inspiring and award winning documentary shows how even small-town students and educators can teach the world powerful lessons.
3rd Annual Jewish Storytelling Event - Feb 6
Storytelling Opens Jewish Community Arts Series
Storytelling is magic! To hear a story is to have an experience that moves us to a time and place we’ve never been. Stories help us feel and think and lead us to new worlds and new understandings. Listening to stories can connect us to the past, to each other, to deeper parts of ourselves, and to the vast possibilities that life can hold.
In fact, almost every culture has storytelling in its past. It was the way, long before books were available, that custom, culture, and morality were passed from one generation to the next. In 2016, with readily available books, movies, television, radio, internet, telephone, and more, storytelling is still a very popular genre. There are no shortages of events including festivals and conferences that provide many opportunities for listening to storytelling. Such happenings geared to every age group, from the very young to the most senior, are available throughout our area.
Storytelling is coded communication. Different people understand the words in different ways. Adults understand the sociology and history while children understand the action. Storytelling requires verbal clues and conventions. While the child and adult may laugh at the same words, they are hearing the same story on different levels.
On February 6, Temple Sinai, 509 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, will be the venue for an enchanting evening of Jewish themed storytelling. Jewish life has a long tradition of storytelling. “To hear a Jewish story is to share the humor and warmth, wisdom and angst, earthiness and spirituality of an ancient and thoroughly modern, diverse, and irrepressible group of people bearing a most remarkable history.” Storytelling has been a means of defining the Jewish identity, the ethnic distinctiveness as a Jew.
As a member of a unique community, Jews tell and retell stories. The telling of stories is the way we share historical happenings and create a cultural history. “There is a captivating gift for storytelling,” says Phyllis Wang Coordinator of Saratoga Jewish Community Arts. “It is not just a reading or recitation of a story. It is a passionate interpretation of a tale so that the listener is transported through time and place.”
Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, with the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, presents its third Annual Storytelling Event featuring both local and regional storytellers retelling both traditional and contemporary tales. What all of these individuals have in common is their love of storytelling. In this program, they will share their passion for storytelling with the audience.
Included in our lineup are Beth Sabo Novik - facilitator, teacher, and transformational speaker; Shawn Banner - artist, teacher of art, and an educator focusing on math intervention; Sandor (Sandy) Schuman - President of Executive Decision Services LLC, author, facilitator, and communications specialist; Jeannine Laverty - professional storyteller and co-host of Open Mic Storytelling at Caffe Lena; and Martina Zobel - Jewish Educator who uses story to enrich students of all ages.
Please join us for dinner, dessert, and a selection of stories to fill the mind, the heart and the soul. Experience the closing of Shabbat with the beautiful Havdalah ceremony and sit back for an engaging and entertaining family-centered evening of stories. The dinner program will begin at 5:30 p.m. A $10 donation per adult and $5 per child is requested. For reservations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-584-8730, opt. 2.