This Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., RutabagA Studio and Art Gallery in Geneseo will host the opening reception of the Meyer and Frances Shnurman Holocaust Visual Arts Contest.

The artwork was created by students from grades 6-12 in the area to reflect the events and impact of the Holocaust. The exhibit will be in place during regular studio hours, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 1. RutabagA is at 108 North State St., across from Central Theater, Geneseo.

Noah Foley of Orion Middle School and his winning art entry, “The Forgotten Suitcase.”

The top prize winners are all in 6th grade at Orion Middle School:

  • 1st Prize: Noah Foley, “The Forgotten Suitcase.”
  • 2nd Prize: Kinsley Lough, “Star of David.”
  • 3rd Prize: Isabella Marshall, “The Rock Viewpoint.”
Kinsley Lough and her 2nd-prize painting, “Star of David.”

The art contest is sponsored by the Quad Cities Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance) Committee. It’s open to all QC area students in grades 6-12, with Quad City Arts co-sponsoring the Visual Arts Contest.

First prize is $500, with a $100 gift card to the teacher who provided guidance. Second prize is $200, with a $50 gift card to the teacher who provided guidance. Third prize is $100, with a $50 gift card to the teacher.

Mi Young, one of the Forest Grove Elementary (Bettendorf) 6th-grade students who illustrated the A Book by Me, Riva’s Reality: A Childhood Stolen By Hitler, will be at the Sunday reception for a book signing.

The new book “Riva’s Reality,” the 62nd in the “A Book By Me” Holocaust series, was illustrated by the Forest Grove Elementary School 6th-grade class in Bettendorf in 2022.

In the new book, the parents of young Riva and her sister Inna had no choice but to leave Romania after the Nazi invasion in 1940. Jewish people, like them, were being killed for no reason, and their bodies were placed in mass graves. As Riva’s family traveled by train, there were bombings that could have cost them their lives, but they made it safely to Russia, where they survived the war.

Riva’s powerful story was told by young author Anna Vorozhtsova, who began writing this story just days after a war began in her own country. Sadly, there are many parallels to Riva’s story and her own, as Anna was forced to leave Ukraine.

“As I wrote this story, my parents sent me away from danger, so I traveled by bus to Poland, then to Germany, and finally to Belgium where I’m living now,” Anna said by email. “This book was written in four different countries, even as I wrote about a little girl whose family moved from danger through various countries (including my homeland of Ukraine) to find a safe place to live.

“Ironically, her safe place was Russia, the country who is destroying Ukraine right now,” the young author said. “My wish is that the war in my country ends soon, and there will never be anything like this ever again.”

The “A Book By Me” Holocaust Series (books written for children by children) started in the Quad Cities in 2003 with three women named Esther: Esther Avruch, Esther Katz, and Esther Schiff. Without them, there wouldn’t be a book series inspiring young readers and young authors. 

This series includes stories of Holocaust survivors, soldiers who were eyewitnesses to the concentration camps, and Righteous Gentiles, non-Jews who risked their lives to help others. 

“It’s imperative that young people interview these subjects while we still can. The window of opportunity is closing quickly,” the “Book By Me” website says. Some of the books are available for purchase on Amazon HERE.