The 2013 Awards Ceremony
Beit Hatfutsot buzzed with excitement on June 13th while celebrating the My Family Story – Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf International Annual Competition. Dozens of young Jewish genealogists along with hundreds of students, family and friends converged onto the museum. For the second year, 20 international winners received a free trip to Israel, courtesy of the Grosskopf family, the competition’s sponsor, doubling the amount of international visitors from last year.
My Family Story, a far-reaching educational initiative, celebrating its 17th year, is one of Beit Hatfutsot’s most innovative flagship programs. Through a yearlong curriculum, young participants in Israel and worldwide Jewish communities, embark on a multigenerational journey to the past.
Through rigorous research and inspiring creativity the students produce a final display illustrating their personal exploration into their family roots and connection to the greater story of the Jewish people.
The competition is divided involving three regions; Israel, Latin America & Spain, North America & Australia, and Europe. Contributing countries for this year include: Israel, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Costa Rica, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Canada. This year, 76 institutions and over 12,000 students participated in the MFS program resulting in the submission of 126 projects from around the world. MFS joined with the Partnership for Effective Learning and Innovative Education (PELIE), expanding the program in the North American region.
Fun and meaningful events were organized for the winners and their families to celebrate their heritage projects, meet peers from the world over, open the new exhibition displaying their work, and to honor the exploration of Jewish family stories. The kids enjoyed the awards ceremony broadcast live online, icebreaker games, and a specially organized treasure hunt in Tel Aviv that became a fun city tour. Young students from around the world were able to interact and share stories with 30 Israeli participants during organized activities. In the meantime, their family and friends were guided through the museum’s galleries. Later, the children and their parents joined together for a reception prior to the awards ceremony.
My Family Story was indeed a family affair for North American first place winner, Gianni Mizrachi of San Diego Jewish Academy in California, USA, who flew in with his family to share the amazing experience. His father, Elias, was so moved, he told Beit Hatfutsot staff, “We are very proud to be here and to be part of this program.” Gianni’s mother called the experience, “A wonderful journey…it was great to learn about where we came from and who we are.” Roni Heimberg, first place winner out of the Israel region was joined by peers from her school as well as her family members including her brother visiting from the IDF. During the ceremony, Kids.il, Israel’s representatives from Kids Eurovision performed several show stopping ensembles including a special tribute to our sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Grosskopf, who were unable to be in attendance, but watched the ceremony via internet live streaming.
Throughout the past few months, as submissions swarmed the offices of the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies, the staff combed through all the amazing work that Jewish students researched and designed. Of the top 126 submissions, the 35 best projects were chosen to be displayed in a special exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot throughout the months of June and July. The installations include well researched family tree albums, photographs, original authentic aged documents, and creative, beautiful and interactive designs that capture both personal family stories and the broader Jewish people’s collective experience.
The selection committee is made up of five distinguished individuals including Prof. Gidon Shimoni, expert in Jewish Studies and Dr. Sigal Barkai, National supervisor of visual art studies at the Israeli Ministry of Education, who also contributed considerably to the program thoughout the year .
Ron Merkel, member of the MFS team stated, “My Family Story not only captures interesting stories and in-depth research, but it is a worldwide phenomenon where young Jewish kids and their families are able to connect to the greater story of the Jewish people. I encourage Jewish institutes around the world to take part in this special program.”
We were joined by the following special guests:
- Hilary Windecker, Counselor for Press and Culture Affairs US Embassy
- Rodrigo Xavier Carreras, Ambassador of Costa Rica
- Franz Josef Kuglitsch and wife, Ambassador of Austria
- Lea Engelberg, Swiss Embassy
- Cultural Attache of the Mexican Embassy
- Dr. Sigal Barkai, National supervisor of visual art studies, the Israeli Ministry of Education