By Deb Silverthorn
As the next generation blossoms, many are taking it into their own hands to help the world bloom. That’s exactly what Fort Worth Country Day School senior Grace Goldman is doing by planting a daffodil garden.
“We had a butterfly garden in the lower school, and a veteran’s garden in the middle school, and I thought it was time to include the upper school,” said Goldman, who brought The Daffodil Project to her campus.
Am Yisrael Chai, an Atlanta-based nonprofit Holocaust education and awareness organization, developed The Daffodil Project in 2010 by planting 1,800 bulbs. An estimated 465,000 bulbs have been planted throughout the United States, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands since then.
The program provides the first 250 bulbs at no cost, and the participating organization must plant another 250 within two years. Some plant many times that amount. In addition to empowering Holocaust education, the program, open to schools, congregations and organizations, supports projects helping children suffering humanitarian crises in Darfur, Rwanda and Southern Sudan.
“We chose these daffodils because they’re the shape and color of the Jewish star that was worn by so many Jews who perished, and for those who escaped with their lives,” said Andrea Videlefsky, president of Am Yisrael Chai and founder of The Daffodil Project. “It was a sign meant to designate those who should die, and we’re planting these as a designation of blossoming life and a future for the Jews.
“Daffodils blossom for a short while, just as the lives of the Jewish children were short, but these come back each year and allow us each year to remember those children, and all who died. We hope to plant at least 1.5 million, one for each of those children.”
The Daffodil Project addresses issues of hatred and bigotry that Videlefsky says seemingly can be found everywhere. “We want to create spaces of peace and tolerance, of understanding, against the injustices we see around the world today,” she said. “It’s important for everyone to remember to take a stand — and not stand by.”
Goldman, daughter of Elliot and Heather and sister of Grant, plays field hockey, soccer and golf at Country Day. She will attend Wake Forest University in the fall.
A member of the Link Crew peer mentor program, she is a student ambassador and a member of the art and diversity clubs. She is also involved in many service organizations.
“While the garden was a way to expand on the curriculum and ensure our remembrance of the event, it is also a way for me to honor my great-grandmother’s memory,” said Goldman, who with her father led an assembly for her classmates, explaining her heritage and why the Daffodil Project was so important to her.
Goldman’s great-grandmother Blanche was a survivor of Auschwitz who was sent to a labor camp rather than the death camps. Because her fingers curved outward, she spent her days assembling munitions and her nights knitting for a female SS officer.
“I’m glad Grace found she could relate to this story and that she has made this a project and priority,” said Goldman’s grandmother and Blanche’s daughter, Rachel. “She’s a leader, always initiating goodness.”
Learning of her great-grandmother’s history, Goldman was further inspired when reading Elie Wiesel’s book Night, and then by Wiesel’s courage.
Goldman first proposed her project to her English teachers, suggesting it as a partner to Night, required reading at her school. Important to her was the connection between the reading of the book and her own personal story. She thought her classmates would be further inspired by the personal association.
Goldman connected Am Yisrael Chai with her school’s administration, and then worked with the school’s grounds supervisor to determine an appropriate space and plan forward.
“Grace and her family have always been involved in our school and this deep dedication to her own heritage has benefited us all,” said Eric Lombardi, Fort Worth Country Day head of school. “She made it happen and did so in her wonderfully high-energy way, bringing our school community together with a worldwide effort. We are very proud.”
A commemorative plaque at the site includes Wiesel’s words: “How can a person not be moved by compassion? And above all, how can anyone who remembers remain silent?”
“Daffodils are resilient; they come back every year,” said Goldman. “I hope the memory of those who perished will too.”
For information on planting your own garden, visit daffodilproject.net.