Student engagement in national and global crises is not unusual in the Modern Hebrew Language Program at The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. In fact, the trend is facilitated by the program director Uri Maimon, who says “it is important that after major events happen, the students are encouraged to process their feelings and project responses.” Last Spring the students hosted an impromptu day long bake-sale and the proceeds, more than $800, went to organizations that helped children impacted by the Syrian Civil War. Uri was inspired by two Israelis that raised over ₪400,000 (Shekels) and thought “If they can do something, why can’t we?” This Fall, students hosted another bake-sale that raised nearly $600 to help the people in Houston impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
So when 3rd year Hebrew student Shira Schwartz was asked to give a presentation in Hebrew on her response to the tragedy dubbed “The Las Vegas Concert Massacre”, it was not unusual. The course focuses primarily on news from Israel, and student do their their research and presentations in Hebrew. However, “the events in Las Vegas demanded some attention”, said Uri. Students were asked to give a presentation of any kind using a form of media. Shira chose to make a video, a hobby she has developed since taking a course as part of her Art-Media-Entertainment major here at the university.
Shira said that she had not taken the time to process the event in Las Vegas, but primarily felt angry and afraid. While making the video, however, she was able to sort out her emotions and decided that “living afraid or allowing these kinds of things to take away from you living your life is not what the victims would want.” She resolved to “live her life on behalf of those who would not be able to, and not let tragedy stop her.” This is what her video is all about, her tribute to the lives of those victims. She did not mention the name of the shooter, because she did not want to contribute to his fame in any way.
Recently, Shira went to a concert and found herself looking around. Reminded of her project, she decided to stop and enjoy her time.
The students in the Hebrew program continue to inspire us and many in the community. Great credit is due to Uri for his guidance and leadership. Check out Shira’s video below, and if you like, please add a comment to let her know your thoughts on her presentation.