Sunday, October 5, 2008

Roswell Reads "Night"

We have been busy in Roswell--no not spending the $200 million Powerball jackpot, although I do know the winners--but kicking off a month-long program called "Roswell Reads." It is based on "The Big Read" program, but allows us to select a book. Melissa Jones Witt, also from Roswell and who went through our program last year, is the leading oar and I am the number 2 person in this effort. We chose "Night" as the book and we have received several grants, including one from the National Endowment for the Humanities and one from the Memorial Library. We purchased several hundred copies of "Night," which we are giving out to teachers and other members of the community, with the idea that everyone in Roswell will read the book together and talk about it. (I actually got my husband to read it!) This past week we had our opening event at the Civic Center. Dr. Burroughs, a Presbyterian minister, gave a brief overview of Jewish history, I talked about modern Jewish culture, both before and after the Holocaust, and Dr. Witt, a humanities professor, talked about the book. This week (and this is the best and most unbelievable part!) I am going to Albuquerque to pick up a gentleman named Werner Gellert, a survivor, who is going to spend 5 days here. He will speak to the community Tuesday night, will come to my classroom on Wednesday (this is what I thought would never happen), and will help our local synagogue celebrate Yom Kippur. On Friday, our very tiny synagogue is opening its doors to the public for Shabbat services--the idea coming from our wonderful experience, and Mr. Gellert will take the lead in this service, as we do not have a rabbi in Roswell. On Saturday the 11th, Melissa and I are going to conduct a workshop for teachers on teaching the Holocaust in the morning and a Writing Project-style event for students in the afternoon. On the 22nd, students will showcase their works to the public. We have so many ideas and so much material to share with the community, teachers and students, that it is overwhelming.

I have to say that as I sat in the Library in July and thought about our charge to bring this back to our community, I did not think I could do it. Where would I find a survivor to come to Roswell? How could I do more than teach my own classes? Who would work with me? Melissa and the High Plains Writing Project have make something happen that I could not have imagined. As I think we all find, there is a lot of interest in this subject out there, but not a lot of knowledge and understanding. I will report back on our adventures soon.

And I am certainly going to look at the student Night blog that Larry and Danielle have, and if it's okay with them, we might share this with our Roswell teachers next week.

Miss you all-


Larry Neuburger said...

Hey! I now know somebody who knows somebody that won a Powerball jackpot! That's the closest I'll probably ever get.

I am amazed at what you have accomplished Leslie. I never doubted you would figure out a way to pull from our experience. I am amazed at the scale! The whole town? That's amazing. But, once I think about, I shouldn't be that amazed, you're an amazing person. :)

LeslieL said...

It's been way more the result of Melissa's efforts, but I go over to her house almost every night to hold her 2 month old and give her arms a rest, so I'll take credit. And BTW the people who won the lottery didn't really need it!