Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Today is the anniversary of the passing of Yanosh Korchak, the famous Jewish educator. 78 years ago he was murdered in the Holocaust despite being given several opportunities to escape the death camps due to his reputation, especially as an author of children's books. But Korchak had established an orphanage in Warsaw where 192 children whom he cherished were living. When the Nazis came to take the children away, Korchak insisted on going with them. Until today, Korchak is considered a revolutionary educator. Some quotations from his writings follow below.
• Regarding the relationship of adults to children and the need for sincerity: "We are trapped in the illusion that a child can make do with the world view of an angel, that everything is simple. But will we really be able to hide uncertainty, weakness, and contradiction from our children? Our failures, our defeats, our lack of a formula for happiness? Nothing in education is better than the total honesty of the educator."
• On the purpose of the orphanage that he built: "If it were not for this house, these children would not know that there are people in the world who are honest, people who don't steal. They would not know that it's possible to tell the truth. They would not know that there is justice, gentleness, and love."
• On Judaism and Zionism to which he grew closer in his later years: "I traveled to the Land of Israel to absorb the past, to find a focal point for my thoughts about the present, and also to touch the future. Following a deep depression that lasted many months, I made a crucial decision: to spend my final years in the Land of Israel, beginning in Jerusalem. All the yearnings of the heart -- not Jewish, but human yearnings -- flow toward the Land of Israel."
In the memory of Hirsch Ben Yosef Goldschmidt, better known by his pen name of Yanosh Korchak.