Last year, Yaffa De Goede, a volunteer in the Leo Baeck high school library, brought in a book written in English called “I Came Alone,” comprising over one hundred testimonies of children from the Kindertransports. She thought it would be educationally beneficial if someone would translate these testimonies into Hebrew in order to widen the readership of this important book.
Ruthie Almog, an English teacher and translator was asked about taking on this project. She and the director of the library, Dr. Ruth Ash, came up with an idea to offer the students to tackle the task with their guidance. Dr. Ash sent an email to the Leo Baeck high school students to see who would bite the bait. To their delight, twenty-seven students took it upon themselves to translate 3-10 testimonies each. After receiving the blessing of the family of Bertha Leverton, the editor of the original English compliation, we began the translations.
The students met with Ruthie Almog after translating a story and went over their work while learning the subtleties and nuances of translation and discussing the linguistic, factual and emotional differences in the testimonies. Each translation was then sent to Dr. Ash for the final editing.
We were fortunate and privileged to host Ms. Alisa Tennenbaum, Chair of the Israel Kindertransports Association, in the Leo Baeck library at the end of our project and to hear her full testimony.
The Holocaust Memorial Day in our school this year was dedicated to the children of the Holocaust, especially those who were part of the Kindertransports. A number of especially poignant translations were read aloud by the students at the ceremony against a backdrop of drawings done in Mr. Yonathan Bar-On’s English classroom as part of the Centropa project he leads.
Three students, Ofer Bar, Roi Zohar and Ilan Goltman, simultaneously created a website documenting all of the translations and any other information discovered about the Kindertransports writers.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, Dr. Ash shared our project with Yad Vashem. Subsequently, two members of the Yad Vashem Education Committee visited us and interviewed us about the process. We were notified a few weeks later that we had, in fact, won the Prize for Excellence in Holocaust Education and were invited to the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem in order to receive the prize.
On June 14th, four of the student translators, along with Dr. Ash, Ruthie Almog, Yonathan Bar-On, Alisa Tennenbaum, and Yaffa De Groede, traveled to Jerusalem to Yad Vashem where we received the prize. We were honored and thrilled that our project had received this level of recognition. Next year we hope to use the translations in other classes, such as history, civics, and education, and perhaps share the testimonies with classes in the lower grades.
Written by: Ruthie Almog, English teacher and professional translator, and Yael Kastel, high school student