ABOUT EVA'S KORTYARD
When we started this school year, we began with the essential question: At what point would you grant forgiveness? Then we read a true story about Holocaust survivor, Eva Kor.
Eva, as well as many other Holocaust survivors, lost their family members and much more while enduring the worst possible living conditions at the hand of the Nazis.
Even though this happened to her, she taught us how to stay determined during life’s worst possible storms and to never give up. At the end of Eva’s book, she teaches 3 life lessons, and the 3rd one stood out to us: “Forgive your worst enemy. It will heal your soul and set you free.”
Eva did this herself many years after the Holocaust when she met with a former Nazi doctor. After he admitted to living with nightmares his entire life for committing the crimes that he had done, Eva decided that there was only one thing she could do to free herself and no longer remain a victim: FORGIVE...and so she did. She wrote a formal letter of forgiveness and shared it at the 40th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
This was so inspiring to us that we wanted to carry on Eva’s message while also educating others about the Holocaust. Now that Eva had changed our hearts about granting forgiveness, our essential question transformed into: How can we spread the idea of forgiveness in our own lives while also acknowledging that conflict will always be present?
We thought…if Eva can forgive after this extreme level of conflict, then can’t we be inspired to handle our own life conflicts in a better way?…no matter how big or small?
Ironically, our school is designated as a Restorative Practices school, which means we follow a positive systematic approach for handling conflict. When we have conflicts…big or small…we have what is called a Restorative Circle.
Therefore, we created Eva' Kortyard.
ROCKS OF REMEMBRANCE
Our Rocks of Remembrance contain butterflies on them because butterflies are a symbol for hope. Eva's message of forgiveness causes conflict amongst many who believe that the Nazis should not and could not EVER be forgiven for the horrible things they did, and we obviously could NEVER and would NEVER speak on behalf of or for those victims of such atrocities, but we can have HOPE that conversations can take place to address conflicts in our lives, and that is what Eva has taught us.
"In Jewish tradition, it is customary to leave a small rock on someone's grave, and rocks are a fitting symbol of the lasting presence of the person's life and memory." A stone is resilient, everlasting, and forever, and our rocks in this courtyard for the Holocaust Survivors of Tennessee and others affected by this tragedy, will be forever present here as memories of each individual's story so that people will always remember.
On each rock, there is a butterfly. Without having a negative connotation, and simply to show contrasting effect, we have positioned each butterfly and rock together. Butterflies are light, and rocks are heavy. Eva's Kortyard is for bringing two things together that conflict and to have hope for restoration.
RAILROAD TO RESTORATION
During the Holocaust, railroads were used to hurt and change people's lives for the worst.
Our Railroad to Restoration is a reminder about this tragedy.
Today, we cross these railroad tracks with a hope to carry our current life conflicts to an area of hope for restoration.
FOUNTAIN OF FORGIVENESS
The Fountain of Forgiveness is an area designed to conduct Restorative Circles. Students and teachers will bring their conflicts around the fountain to have difficult conversations.
Eva taught us to not run from our conflicts but to move towards them. So, having an area to have restorative circles is our way of moving towards our problems in a healthy way.
A restorative circle is a positive systematic approach to discussing conflict in which the following questions are used: What happened? What were you thinking while that was happening? What have you thought about since? How did this affect you and others? What has been the hardest thing for you? What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
We understand that forgiveness is a personal choice, and we are not telling people to forgive. This area is an area that brings hope for the possibility of forgiveness.
EVA KOR'S CANDLES
& EDUCATION CENTER
LIVING ON PROGRAM
SPECIAL THANKS TO