Congratulations to Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls 11th-grader Yael Shtern who has been named runner-up in the music category of the Project Witness 2021 National School Competition and 10th-grader Yael Szlafrok who received Honorable Mention in the literature category.

Project Witness, an organization dedicated to ensuring that the Shoah will not be forgotten, chose Propaganda as its theme this year. “How could a nation commit the atrocities that were perpetrated in Nazi Germany?” SKA Junior Yael Shtern used her love of music to compose “It Only Takes One,” a song based on Rabbi Jonathan’s Sacks’ book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times. When public discourse grows toxic and family life breaks down, the future becomes uncertain and it is easy for the “Big Lie” to spread.

SKA sophomore Yael Szlafrok explains that her essay, “We Can All be Firefighters,” is about the spread of propaganda. She notes that the reason propaganda still exists today is because of the political partisanship in this country that “intentionally fans the flames of propaganda” in order to further the popularity and status of a particular political party. I was inspired to write this essay due to the growing feud between both political parties that is wreaking havoc in our country and democracy. If people were to listen to both sides of the conversation, rather than only their own “facts,” we can stop the spread of the “fire” of propaganda once and for all.

The two SKA students competed as part of their RISE independent learning requirement. RISE (Reach with Independent Learning, Scholars, and Enriching Experiences) is an exciting SKA program for students who are interested in exploring academic opportunities beyond the classroom. Under the guidance of Dr. Chana Glatt, the students spend time on their special interests, hear from visiting scholars, and go on inspiring trips. The program has been very successful in adding a unique dimension to the students’ school experience. 

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