Atlanta Jewish Academy fifth-grader and Congregation Shearith Israel member Noa Rudisch has been named one of the 40 worldwide finalists in the Manuel Hirsch Grosskopf International Competition on family history, sponsored by Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People.

Shearith Israel worked with the Breman Museum to offer Beit Hatfutsot’s My Family Story curriculum. About two dozen children ages 10 to 15 participated in the Atlanta pilot of a program that’s 20 years old.

Noa Rudisch

Noa Rudisch

A grant from the Covenant Foundation enabled Beit Hatfutsot to offer the six-week program outside a day school setting.

At age 10, Noa is one of the youngest finalists among more than 20,000 students from 12 countries who participated.

Through My Family Story, children learn about genealogical research, then dig into their own family histories. The curriculum includes information on interviewing, the use of historical artifacts, and writing and presentation techniques.

The program culminates in individual art projects reflecting each family’s story.

Noa created a short animated film about her family, including a timeline of both parents’ families that extends back to the late 1800s. She learned about what happened to her mother’s family during the Holocaust and discovered that her father’s ancestors emigrated from Kedainiai, Lithuania, to the United Kingdom.

“This project was really fun,” Noa said. “I liked studying family trees and family photos and contacting people I usually don’t see very often. It was easier because I go to a Jewish school, so I already knew a lot about Jewish things that other kids might not. I also worked on AJA’s Immigration Project in fourth grade, so I had done an interview like this before when I asked my mom about immigrating with her family from Latvia when she was little.”

Noa and her mother are leaving Sunday, June 5, for a 10-day visit to Israel, including the international award ceremony in Tel Aviv. Noa said the part of the trip she’s most looking forward to, however, is spending time with her extended family.