Friday, April 7, 2017

Cornerstone Academy Theater Spotlights Child Holocaust Survivors

Ruth Steinfeld recently spoke to the Cornerstone Academy student body.
World War II Holocaust survivor Ruth Steinfeld spoke recently to the student body at Cornerstone Academy, the district charter middle school. Her remarks about an ordeal no child should ever witness preceded this weekend’s Cornerstone student  production of a one-act play about youths surviving inside a concentration camp.

The student play, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, will be performed this Friday and Saturday, April 7-8, at Spring Woods High School.

As a then 5-year-old girl, Steinfeld watched helplessly as Nazi soldiers wrecked and smashed up her family’s home in Germany during a Nov. 9, 1938, evening now known in world history as Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass.”

The Nazis led off her father and grandfather to the Dachau Concentration Camp, where they and so many others were systematically killed during World War II.

Steinfeld’s family was later shipped off to a concentration camp in southwestern France. A French group called the Agency for the Rescue of Children, posing as Red Cross officials, moved Steinfeld and others to a nearby medieval castle and area orphanages, pretending they were Christian children.

She and others later found safety in New York City. The Jewish Family Agency was able to get them out of France.

Steinfeld later moved to Houston in 1949, where she married and then had three daughters.

Cornerstone Academy’s final student production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 8, in the Mini-Auditorium at Spring Woods High School, 2045 Gessner. The middle school’s new academic building on Westview is under construction. It will open in August.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly is both a book and play. Both tell the stories of the Holocaust concentration camp experience through the eyes and ears and senses of children.
One version is based on the art and poetry of Jewish children who lived in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Many families and children died there.

The book I Never Saw Another Butterfly is named after a poem by Pavel Friedman, who was incarcerated in the concentration camp and who later died in Auschwitz, another Nazi death camp. The one-act play centers around another child who is a survivor of the Terezin concentration camp.

Speaking of Steinfeld’s recent talk to Cornerstone Academy students, Theater Arts instructor Juli Pendergrass said that the student play and Holocaust survivor story made a big impact.

“We felt very privileged to have heard a survivor since not many are left anymore. She [Ruth Steinfeld] hopes our production of I Never Saw Another Butterfly goes well this weekend,” Pendergrass said.


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