Holocaust's 'unsung heroes' are focus of essay contest

Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 - 12:02 pm | Page 2B

The annual Eleanor J. Marks Holocaust Essay Contest is accepting submissions from students in grades 6-12, with deadlines of March 1 in some categories and Feb. 1 in others.

This year, the students' essay theme is the "unsung heroes of the Holocaust, 1939-1945."

Prizes of $75 to $150 will be presented to the winning students in April at Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah).

The Holocaust writing project is sponsored by Bernie Marks and Congregation B'nai Israel's brotherhood. Marks, a member of the Land Park congregation, survived four concentration camps in World War II.

He created the essay contest as a learning tool for children to understand what transpired during the Holocaust. It is dedicated in memory of his wife Eleanor and father Joseph Marks.

Marks says the contest initially began for the children at his congregation. In the ensuing years, he created categories for children enrolled in Jewish education programs in the greater Sacramento region, then created a category for all Northern and Central California students in public and private schools. The contest now accepts essays from students in Europe where the writing project is part of the curriculum in 26 countries.

The winning submissions will be published in a book, "Children's Voices." The first such book, with the winning entries from 2009-2012, is available at Congregation B'nai Israel's Gift Shop for $14.95.

Marks is often invited to speak to students in the region and in Europe about the Holocaust. In the book, he says he is dedicated to trying "to make the world a better place, a place that humans will 'never again' treat each other with such brutality..."

The contest essays vary in length, such as 750-1,2500 words for grades 6-8, and 2,000 - 3,000 words for grades 9-12.

For specific information about the contest entry categories and requirements, submit questions to dov52@rcip.com or marissa@bnais.com.

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