One Button, One Child

July 26, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Following on the heels of its namesake school in Wellington, New Zealand, Sydney’s Moriah College is collecting 1.5 million buttons in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

Survivor Lotte Weiss counts the buttons

Survivor Lotte Weiss counts the buttons

The Moriah College Button Project recently passed the 1,000,000 mark, following the tally of over 120,000 at The Sydney Jewish Museum’s special counting day.

Moriah College students, parents, grandparents teamed up with students, parents and teachers from Mount Sinai, Masada College, Emmanuel and Bellevue Hill Public School and others to help count every button.

Holocaust survivor Lottie Weiss who was volunteering at the Museum, helped with counting buttons and was very moved by the project and what it represents.

Project co-ordinator Candi Burger said: “We hope to have even more representation from the community – with children from 4-5 year olds right through to great grandparents in their nineties or older. All are welcome to help us count.”

Inspired by the ‘Paperclips’ project run by students of Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee; the Moriah School in Wellington, and the Anne Frank exhibition currently travelling Australia, The Button Project is expected to generate a lot of interest locally, nationally and globally.

Other Sydney schools and the wider community are strongly supporting the project due to the significance of what it means to remember the 1,500,000 innocent lives lost during the holocaust through a collection of buttons.

“Collecting buttons of all shapes, sizes, colours and textures, whether they’re made in Australia or around the world, every button has a story, and every button we collect represents one young life lost. One button, one life, one story untold,” says Burger a former Alumni student of Moriah College.

She added: “In driving The Button Project, we aim to instill a strong message for our future generations of children, raising awareness of tolerance, racism, human rights and equality. There are many important life lessons that come from understanding why we are doing this project, so it will be a significant learning opportunity, not only for students and families of Moriah College, but for students and families of many other schools in Sydney, across Australia, and we hope around the world. We are hoping this message goes out to a diverse group from many different cultural backgrounds.

Isabelle Aron

Isabella Aron

Moriah College’s Director of Preschools  Cathy Milwidsky says there are stories that accompany these buttons, many of which are heart wrenching. “We have learnt of the buttons coming from Holocaust survivors, some of whom are still alive to tell their story, but many of whom have since deceased.

Plenty of buttons

Plenty of buttons

One of our long-standing teachers lost 62 family members in the Holocaust and donated 62 buttons with his list of all family members to be remembered. It’s both beautiful and tragic. We also recently received buttons which came from a cardigan of a survivor, worn on the boat that brought them to Australia to escape the Holocaust. Many others are new buttons, and all of which are important as they represent a child lost to us all.

For me personally, I lost many members of my family in the Holocaust, and so this project is extremely meaningful for me. The preschool children and their families have embraced this project with open arms. We are asking children to donate 4 or 5 buttons on the day they celebrate their birthday at preschool, and then an extra button for a child who is not as lucky as they are to have a birthday. So the message for our children is all about being grateful for everything they have in life and to think about those who aren’t as lucky as they are.”

Candi Burger said: “As our containers start to fill up, we really understand the magnitude of the numbers we often hear so much about but can’t really fathom. It’s quite numbing.

That’s what has been experienced by Moriah high school students who are counting the buttons every week, and everyone who has kindly given their time to help count buttons on specific Button counting days held at Hamakom and more recently, at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

“You can see how parents and grandparents are taking this as an opportunity to contribute to a very special and meaningful project, and to talk to their kids about what happened during World War II.

“Our aim is to collect all 1.5 million buttons and create an everlasting memorial for the perished children of the Holocaust and by doing so, raising awareness of tolerance, racism, human rights and equality, every day of the year, but particularly on special commemorative days such as Yom Hashoah and the International Day of Tolerance.

J-Wire readers wishing to help with the project should send buttons to  Joanne Gluckman at Moriah College, Queens Park Road, Queens Park, NSW, 2022.

Want to help count buttons? Contact Candi Burger on cburger@rmbgroup.com.au

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