Tour of the Lauder Morasha Jewish School
Remarks by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
October 5, 1999
Thank you for welcoming me back to your school. I am delighted to be here with
all of you and I particularly am pleased to see so many children gathered here
today. I know that this school is important to you, the students here. And I
visited two of your classrooms to see the work that you are doing. But I also
know that this school is important for other reasons, too. It is important because
of what we have just heard from Ambassador Lauder: this school, and all of you
who are the students and teachers, stand for something very important.
As I listened to the children sing your song of peace, I thought how hard you
have worked to make sure that your voices are heard in today's Poland.
And we can hear your voices because of the commitment of Ambassador Lauder who
made sure that Jewish life and Jewish schools will revive throughout Central
and Eastern Europe. Those voices also reflect the dedication of your principal
and your teachers who ensure that the traditions that have enriched Poland for
centuries will continue to enrich it now and into the next century.
I have visited symbols and places of Poland's past. In 1994, I went to
the Warsaw Ghetto and saw monuments built with the courage and tears of those
who suffered, fought, and died there. No words can express what I felt in 1996
when I walked through Auschwitz and Birkenau and saw the doorways and tracks
that separated Jews from the rest of humanity. No person of conscience can ever
forget what happened in those places. But also on my trips I met people who
are vowing not to forget the past, but also not to be imprisoned by it.
Three years ago, at the Lauder Community Center, I sat with three generations
of Poles. As we sat in the circle, I listened to the stories of people who told
us with great emotion their discovery of their own Jewish roots. But roots,
you know, are usually under ground, in the dark. Roots can only be seen by what
they produce and what flowers from them. That is why this school and the others
like it are so important.
You are making it clear that the best way to combat the evil and violence that
plagued this century is to teach children respect for one another and the way
to live with that respect in the next century.
One of my favorite Bible passages is in the book of Deuteronomy. God has gathered
his people together to explain their obligations to him and to each other. And
He tells them, Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and
the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will survive.
Even in the darkest hours, that is the choice this community has made. Here
in this new building, filled with the powerful and clear voices of children,
you have chosen hope over despair, healing over pain. You have chosen a future
of freedom and justice - a future you have committed to make better than the
past. You have chosen life. And there is no better way to begin a new century.
So thank you very much for letting me come back to see and hear for myself
the energy and hopefulness that this school represents. Shalom - and I hope
to return again in the future. Thank you very much.