Looking back 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are faced with new challenges in remembering the Holocaust. Many survivors have since passed away, leaving their stories and testimony to the younger generation to continue to tell. Last week, Western Hillel invited Jews and non-Jews alike to participate in a number of events exploring not only stories about the Holocaust, but the lessons we can learn about standing up to intolerance and fighting for acceptance. Elie Wiesel once described the Holocaust as, “a destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.” We must first remember the atrocities of the past in order to ensure they never happen again.
The events of Holocaust Education week began with a Shabbat dinner on January 24th discussing the future of what Holocaust education means to all of us. On Sunday January 26th, Elizabeth Moore spoke to students about her own personal experience with white supremacy and Holocaust denial. Her accounts were eye opening in allowing students to understand how people can fall into such hate groups. On January 27th Reny Friedman, a Holocaust survivor who survived after being hidden in a convent, gave her testimony to a diverse group of Western students and faculty.
On Thursday evening, a dinner and discussion took place at the Hillel House discussing online hate and what we can do about it. We were very pleased to be joined (via video call) by global expert, Dr. Andre Oboler of the Online Hate Prevention Institute all the way from Melbourne Australia. We must acknowledge the similarities between what we are seeing today with what has happened in the past in order to effectively find ways to prevent history from repeating itself.
Reflecting back on Westerns Holocaust education week I think about how important it is to take on the role of sharing the stories we hear with generations to come and ensure these atrocities do not happen again.
Written by Hailey Bensky