The Vermont Holocaust Memorial, a nonprofit organization that’s been formed in Jeffersonville, is offering to provide speakers for schools, churches, historical societies and other groups about the Holocaust.
The speakers want to provide information not only about the genocide in which 6 million European Jews were killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the World War II collaborators with the Nazis, but also about lessons of survival and new lives made possible in the United States and Canada.
More information is at holocaustmemorial-vt.org.
“The Vermont Holocaust Memorial was created to advance education, not only about this terrible time in Jewish history, but about tolerance, the importance of interfaith communication and outreach, as well as teaching about the effects of bullying, anti-Semitism, and hate,” said Debora Steinerman, a co-founder.
Other founders of the memorial include Marcie Scudder and Miriam Rosenbloom. Scudder and Rosenbloom are first-generation Canadians; Steinerman is a first-generation American. All three live in Vermont.
The parents of all three survived the Holocaust during World War II; all three remain deeply affected by their parents’ experiences.
“We are here, then, as survivors ourselves and we can attest to the strength needed to survive in the face of oppression and genocide,” Scudder said. “We can also speak to the fragility of life and freedom, of the kind that existed in Europe before it was consumed by the War.”
The speakers have already made presentations at several Vermont public high schools and religious schools.
The organization has also prepared a small portfolio of educational materials that seeks to carefully challenge students on the issues posed by the life-and-death stories of survivors, and the ethical questions and other issues that many face when confronted with religious persecution and deadly racism.
“There is literally no other resource like this in the state of Vermont,” Rosenbloom said. “Our hope is to eventually effect a change in the educational landscape here by making the subject of the Holocaust, and the many issues that horrific era touches upon, a mandated course of study in this region.”
Said Steinerman: “As Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winning historian and philosopher — and Holocaust survivor — had written: ‘For whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness.’ We hope to create a whole new generation of ‘witnesses,’ so they can remember the genocide of the Holocaust, and be better prepared if needed to recognize and combat intolerance and persecution.”
The organization’s statement of purpose says: “There are invaluable lessons to be learned by studying the Holocaust. By engaging and educating the community, we envision a time when prejudice, bigotry and hatred will be replaced with respect for all.”