Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Whitwell, TN

I know this is "old news" but DixieYid expressed interest, and wanted to see some pictures.

In 2006, the JMA's Ride to Remember went to Whitwell, TN. This is the home of the PaperClip project. You might have seen or heard about the movie. It's a small town in TN that has a 97% white population, and almost no ethnic diversity. The principal, Linda Hooper decided that the kids needed to be exposed to some type of cultural diversity training. They decided to learn about the Holocaust. However, the kids couldn't get their minds wrapped around the number "6 million." They knew what it was in theory, but couldn't "see" it. They decided to collect 6 million paperclips. A long story later, they received millions of paperclips, and also a rail car that was actually used in the Holocaust.

The members of the JMA contributed over $50,000 to the school, most of which went to pay for several Promethean boards (interactive boards that people can write on, but also connects to a computer, fancy stuff I never had when I was in school. ;-) ) Despite all that we gave to the school, I think they gave us so much more. Linda Hooper, the principal, said that when they build the new school in a few years, she wants us back. I know we'll be more than happy to go!

The starting point. We had about 150 bikes or so. (The number depends on who you ask :-) )

When we arrived, it was pretty dark and drizzly.

But the auditorium was full of excited middle school kids. They were cheering for about 15 minutes straight.

One of the things we gave them was a flag that we made up symbolizing our ride down. The Australian folks signed on to the ride a little late, so we didn't have their flag on here.

After the presentation (I didn't get any good shots), we were free to tour the school. The children made artwork as part of their studies. These were some that I thought were interesting to view.

This letter came from Germany. Someone had heard about the project, and gone through some old files he found in a warehouse. These files were used in some Nazi related affairs, so the paperclips that were holding some of the papers together were some that were used by Nazi's. He sent 6 paperclips. 3 stayed with the letter, and 3 are in the box car with the other clips.

This is the rail boxcar, it was actually used to transport people to the death camps. The school converted it to a museum, housing the paperclips. You see a film crew below. These are the folks who made the Paperclips movie. They are doing a "sequel." How the paperclips project has affected the school, the community, people who comes to visit (like a bunch of Jewish motorcyclists!) etc. The only problem was they kept telling us to ride our motorcycles quietly when we were leaving. Ummmm, granted, I don't go for the whole "LOUD PIPES" thing, but motorcycles do have a running engine which isn't hidden under a hood guys!

This is a display case from inside the boxcar. On either side are a display case carrying 5.5 million paperclips each, for a total of 11 million clips. The Nazis didn't limit their hatred to Jews. 5 million gypsies, homosexuals, handicapped people, political opponents, etc. were also murdered.

Outside of the box car is this memorial. It also holds 11 million paperclips (once the story went out, they received too many clips, so they were able to do this second memorial). This one is dedicated to the children who were murdered in the Holocaust.


DixieYid said...

Great post. I loved the pictures and the explanations you gave of each one. That is so much better than a long list of pictures. Beautiful post and it sounds like you guys made quite a Kiddush Hashem. Riding "choppers" around the country is quite foreign to me personally, but it sounds like a great way to have a good time, meet interesting people, and give tzedakah at the same time. Beautiful!

-Dixie Yid

Alice said...

So beautiful. Gives you hope in the midst of sadness.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Yishar Koah! A truly excellent post. I have to see if we can link to it from our hevra's site...

If you come out west for the next Ride to Remember, we have to make Shabbat together!