September 9

Little Synagogue on the Prairie

The OJCS was very fortunate to get a visit today from author Jackie Mills.  She wrote a wonderful new book called Little Synagogue on the Prairie about a Synagogue, the Montefiore Institute, in Alberta that had to be moved three times.


The kids were held rapt by this fascinating true story.

After the story, Ms. Mills gave a copy to each student to take home.  They were incredibly excited and grateful.

Today we at the OJCS got to learn more about Jewish Canadian history and it was a wonderful experience.

March 25

Unpacking Hana’s Suitcase with Playwright and Author Emil Sher


The OJCS 5-8 students were very fortunate to get a visit from author and playwright Emil Sher today.  Emil adapted the powerful Holocaust story of Hana Brady from the book Hana’s Suitcase for the stage.  Emil went over the book with our students and went into detail about the choices you make when writing for the stage.

An example of this was an explanation about the artistic choices that he made when trying to show the systematic dehumanization of Jewish people for an audience in a way that can be felt by the audience without having to show each crushing law individually.  He explained how seeing the actress playing Hana in a classroom setting first getting her books taken away, and then her notebook, and then finally the pencil itself by a faceless man in a suit conveyed the pain and demoralization that Hana went through.

Students engaged in a discussion segment about the moral impossibility of choosing who lives and dies in a made-up scenario.  Do you choose someone who is 5 years old to live over someone who is elderly?  How do those choices feel?

Emil asked students to remember that like adapting a book for the stage, life comes down to the choices we make every single day.