The most extensively and effectively researched submission we received was by Farrah Madanay, a student at Rice University. In her book, Farrah tells the story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children during the Holocaust.
The complete book can be found here.
Rice University also published a fantastic piece about Farrah and her work on the Rice website: The article is included below.
BY CASEY MICHEL
They may not be Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, but the figures featured in the Boniuk Center’s recent comic book contest are no less heroes than their costumed counterparts. The most notable of these figures is Irena Sendler, the subject of Duncan College junior Farrah Madanay’s winning entry.
Participants in the contest had to create a comic book showing the importance of religious tolerance.
Madanay, who took first place in the 19-and-older division of the competition, focused her comic book on Sendler, a Polish Catholic woman who helped save 2,500 Polish Jews from Warsaw’s ghetto. Madanay said she first came across Sendler’s story via an email.
“When I saw her name in an email, I didn’t think anything about it, other than that hers was an amazing story,” said Madanay, who volunteers at Houston’s Holocaust Museum. “It wasn’t until I heard about the competition over winter break that I thought the story would serve as a model of religious tolerance.”
Madanay’s entry, “The One Who Had Mercy on Them,” runs 21 pages and centers on a present-day rabbi recalling his escape from the Warsaw ghetto, with Sendler’s aid.
Mike Pardee, director of the Boniuk Center for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance, called Madanay’s work a “graphic history” rather than a comic book.
“Farrah is one of those Rice superstars: she runs track, she writes for the Rice Thresher, she volunteers at the Holocaust Museum Houston,” Pardee said. “And you could see the quality of her work, the depth of detail. This was a labor of love for her.”
Madanay’s work in researching the Holocaust is not limited to her book. She was the recent recipient of the Parish Scholarship, which will allow her to spend the upcoming summer studying the practices of memorializing the Holocaust in Munich and Berlin and in Warsaw and Krakow, Poland.
In planning the competition, the Boniuk Center partnered with EZ Comics, a nonprofit organization helmed by McMurtry College senior Ruchir Shah. Last year, Shah worked with KIPP Academy, a nationally recognized charter school in southwest Houston, in putting together a comic book based on the students’ studies of the Holocaust.
Madanay’s entry can currently be seen on EZ Comics’ website; Pardee said that hard copies will be distributed at future Boniuk Center events.
The winners in the elementary and high school divisions were both from the Houston area, with stories centered on religious acceptance and anti-bullying messages. Even though the winners were all local, Pardee said the Boniuk Center opened the contest to an international audience. In fact, according to Pardee, his organization received entries from all across the world.
“We received entries from India, Afghanistan, Estonia, Malaysia, Namibia and Mexico,” Pardee said. “They were all really impressive and remarkably detailed.”
After this inaugural contest, he said, the Boniuk Center hopes to continue this contest in the future.
“If you think about it, writing an essay is much different, and in many ways much easier, than creating a comic book,” Pardee said. “I think there are some stories that can be told especially well in comic book form, and I think it’s very easy for them to become teaching tools for future generations.”