Researching family history

July 30, 2013 by Michelle Favero
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Year 7 students at Sydney’s Emanuel School recently delved deeply into their family history, researching their past through a project called Shorashim, which means ‘roots’.

Amy Radomsky with her parents and grandparents

Amy Radomsky with her parents and grandparents

The project offered an exciting opportunity for students to appreciate their family’s history and heritage, while creating a record for future generations.

The Shorashim project was held in partnership with the United Israel Appeal. Each student received a participation medal and certificate from the UIA. The UIA will select an Emanuel School Shorashim winner who will receive a $1000 voucher towards a future educational trip to Israel.

Each student gathered family stories, history, heirlooms, photographs and documents that provided a tangible connection with their past. Students spoke to grandparents and other family members who shared family stories and heirlooms, which if left unrecorded, may become lost to future generations.

Students included copies of a selection of this archival material, with accompanying descriptions, in a family scrapbook. Each student also presented an artifact to help tell their family’s Jewish story, whether religious, the Holocaust or a lifecycle event.

The culmination of the project was the Shorashim Family Heritage Evening which offered Year 7 students and families the opportunity to hear the fascinating stories.

Anne Hastings, Emanuel School Principal commented, “ It is so important to know about our own heritage – this builds pride and a sense of self-esteem. The Shorashim project enabled the children to strengthen their connection to their family’s past, while building its Jewish future.”

Dr Bryan Conyer, Deputy Principal Jewish Life said, “As a pluralistic community, we are convinced that diversity adds strength to our Jewish community. There is no better way to acknowledge and celebrate that diversity by seeing the manifold pathways that Emanuel families took to arrive in Australia, each bringing the traditions, stories and customs of communities and generations before them.”

Emanuel School Year 7 students, Lara Joffe and Omri Aruch wrote the following about the Shorashim evening, “We have all enjoyed the Shorashim project and have all learnt so much about our roots. During the evening we presented our PowerPoint presentations and iMovies on our Jewish artifacts. There were candlesticks, cups, prayer books and lots, lots more. Everyone found an exciting artifact and each had its own story. We have learnt so many interesting things about our family’s backgrounds that we didn’t know before. It has been so rewarding and enjoyable. We are sure that many of us will treasure our scrapbooks for many, many years.”

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