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Hebrew Academy Orange County Student Wins Local Yom HaShoah Creative Writing Contest

Tuesday, 24 April, 2018 - 9:40 am

photo courtesy of Alpert JCC
Sima Gollub delivering award-winning poem (photo courtesy of Alpert Jewish Community Center)
A high school student at Hebrew Academy Orange County's high school was recently honored with winning a local writing contest. Winning the annual Evelyn Linden Baldwin Creative Writing Contest at the Alpert Jewish Community Center (AJCC) was Hebrew Academy Orange County tenth grader, Sima Gollub. Ms. Gollub had the honor of reading her contest-winning essay at the AJCC’s annual Yom HaShoah event last Sunday.

 

The prompt for this year’s essay contest was Martin Niemöller’s famous poem:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

The contest accepted only original submitted work, with submissions being in the form of an essay, poem, article, or short story, not to exceed 1000 words. Writings were judged on creativity of content and writing style.

Ms. Gollub’s winning poem was a 21-line poem with four four-line stanzas and one five-line stanza, written from the standpoint of a bystander amidst people being taken away around them during the Holocaust. Ms. Gollub’s poem, which she read out in front of all of those assembled at AJCC’s Yom HaShoah event, follows:

I watched everyone around me taken away

I held my tongue and thought, who will it be today?

I wanted to say something, it had to be stopped

But it didn’t affect me, so the matter, I dropped

 

I watched everyone around me be taken away

I knew it was wrong, but there was nothing I could say

They came and invaded, people’s homes, and their lives

They came and they raided, with their guns, and their knives

But I sat, and sat quiet, just observing the riot

 

I told myself next time, next time I would say

I would stand up, and make them go away

I wanted to, I really did, but deep down I knew

I was so irrelevant, what could I actually do?

 

So time went by, the same tragic events

But enough was enough, I was going to make them relent

I stood up, I stood up for it all,

No matter what they said, they couldn’t make me fall

 

I didn’t know what to say, but I yelled everything, anything, anyway

No one I knew was going to be taken today

Not today and not ever, we will never have to be afraid

If only I could do that, if I’d known the difference it could have made.

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