2023 Mission Week

Lucy Ke

Focusing on the Critical Concern of Nonviolence this 2022-2023 school year, Mission Week was dedicated to spreading awareness about Anti-Semitism to support our Jewish brothers and sisters. On Monday, an all-school assembly was held for the Gwynedd community to hear from the Anti-Defamation League of Philadelphia, and the presenter, Randi Boyette, shared personal experiences she had encountered as growing up Jewish. It broke the hearts of the students to hear that she had faced discrimination and hatred starting at the early age of five years old because of her religion. The Anti-Defamation League then educated the student body about the pyramid of hate, with levels ranging from biased thoughts and microaggressions to systemic discrimination and genocide. Students then watched the documentary, Tak For Alt, which tells the story of Mrs. Judy Meisel, an incredibly brave and strong woman who survived the Holocaust. As she resided in the city of Philadelphia before she passed away in 2020, Mrs. Ryder, a member of the Gwynedd social studies faculty, was blessed to have gotten to meet Judy, and the students were deeply moved by her story. Judy told of the evil she had faced and the unimaginable torture she was exposed to in her childhood simply for being Jewish. Years after the Holocaust, Judy moved to Canada, and eventually to the United States where she became a teacher of young children. She faithfully hoped for the future, and recounted that as she held her newborn grandson, she remembered in her heart all the children who did not survive the Holocaust and would have been her age- the age when many become grandparents. Judy advocated for her values and spoke out against issues such as racism. The name of the documentary, Tak For Alt, translates to “Thanks for Everything,” and reflects her grace and appreciation for all of the blessings she received, despite all of the horrors that came into her life. When students reflected on the heroic story of Judy Meisel that they had witnessed through the screen, they learned the important lesson of counting every blessing. Through Mission Week, we have learned to appreciate even the littlest things in life- from a morning Starbucks drink to a new piece of clothing. Displayed on the window of the glass corridor was a wall embellished with sticky notes, a visual reminder of the spirit and focus of Mission Week. Giant letters spelled out, “Thanks For Everything,” and Gwynedd students surrounded the message with sticky notes of everything they were grateful for. This Mission Week, carefully planned by Sister Bernadette, Mr. Fromhold, Mrs. Ryder, Ms. Fasano, Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. May was absolutely eye-opening.