Holocaust education more relevant than ever before

With the arrival of another Jewish new year, we are reminded that time continues to move further away from the Holocaust era that ended 75 years ago.

As the number of survivors continues to dwindle as they age, it’s encouraging to know that the majority of students of all grade levels are being taught about the darkest period in human history.

Over the years, legislation has made this curriculum a priority.

In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed the Holocaust Education Bill requiring all school districts to incorporate lessons on the Holocaust as part of public school instruction.

More recently, in May of this year, the Never Again Education Act was signed into law, allocating $10 million in federal funding over the next five years to further Holocaust education.

A recent study confirms this progress in Shoah studies.

Sponsored by Echoes & Reflections, a joint program of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Yad Vashem, and USC Shoah Foundation, the survey of 1,500 college students showed that actual engagement with survivors, along with classroom instruction while they were in high school, had a profound effect on their knowledge of the era.

South Florida organizations and survivors have contributed to the successful transmission of Holocaust learning to our community’s youth.

According to Rositta E. Kenigsberg, president of the Holocaust Documentation & Education Center, Inc. in Dania Beach, “There is no doubt from the results of this study that Holocaust education is more relevant than ever before and no doubt that it has a profound and significant impact on our students’ sense of morality, compassion, empathy and open-mindedness. This only confirms how important our work is.”

Norman Frajman, of Boynton Beach, who survived the Warsaw ghetto and several concentration camps and is president of the Child Survivors/Hidden Children of Holocaust — Palm Beach County, has spent a lifetime sharing his experiences with students in the hope that the atrocities of the Holocaust will never be forgotten, and will never happen again.

“We are undergoing a time of losing survivors to old age and it is imperative and very vital for the group of 18-35-year-olds of other religions to learn that the Jewish people selflessly are contributing to society. We simply must share who we really are for the younger generation to understand that we help humanity.”

Inscribed at the hallow grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland is the aphorism of philosopher George Santayana that reads: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Let’s pray that the actions of our future leaders speak louder than those words.

Email your thoughts to Editor Alan Goch at [email protected]

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