Soviet Yiddish writer David Bergelson spent the years of World War II writing about the Holocaust for the Soviet press. In 1941, he wrote: “All that’s left of Podol (Ukraine) are empty ruin. From twisted balconies hang the ropes and nooses of gallows. In a grave near the Jewish hospital lie 65,000 Jews, shot to death or buried alive.”
CSU’s Holocaust Awareness Week has come to a close. Yet, for many educators and promoters of Holocaust awareness, these seven days are only the beginning, and only one way to keep images like these alive.
“It is really about year-round work. It’s about teaching Holocaust awareness in schools, providing resources for teachers and offering public programs,” said Amy Berkowitz Caplan, Holocaust Awareness Institute director.
According to the FBI there were 848 incidences of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the United States in 2005.
The number of hate crimes in New York City alone is up almost eight percent from 2005, with the number of crimes against Jews raising 28 percent, according to a New York Police Department report in December 2006.
Due to statistics like these, places like the Holocaust Awareness Institute have been created in order to educate, promote awareness and hopefully motivate action, Caplan said.
“At the simplest level, we want students to understand the dangers of classification,” she said.
Jennifer Williams Molock, director of Black Student Services at CSU, is fighting a different battle against the same enemy and she also feels that education is indeed the first place to begin.
“Our biggest hurdle is the lack of education,” she says. “Without the proper education, people continue to make assumptions.”
Holocaust Awareness Week may pertain to anti-Semitism, as opposed to racism, but Molock believes the two are intertwined.
“The two tie in together because it shows the (suffering) of two different groups of people, but it also shows how these two groups of people have contributed to this country,” she said. “America was built on the backs of black people.”
Molock also sees Holocaust Awareness Week, combined with Black History Month during February, as a time of celebration.
“As a people, we have not only survived, but we have celebrated,” she said. “And you don’t have to be a part of that community to celebrate that survival – it’s for all people.”
As a student who was not directly affected by the Holocaust, junior interior design major Rachel Adams agrees that it is important for all people, especially students, to be involved in increasing awareness.
“We become desensitized to the Holocaust and it’s important to remember and respect those who died and lived through it,” she said.
And although WWII and the Holocaust, as events, lie in the past, the racist mentality, according to Molock, still remains. Still, with more activism and education, it is becoming a smaller battle.
“Racism is all around us. If we are in denial, then that is unfortunate but there have been changes,” she says. “There is more awareness now.”
Staff writer Jessi Stafford can be reached at email@example.com.
Anti-Defamation League Statistics:
The number of anti-Jewish incidents spiked in 2004 at 1,821 – a nine-year high, according to ADL.
Several trends continued to serve as a driving force behind the numbers in 2005. These included: public activity by organized neo-Nazi and other hate groups; anti-Jewish harassment and intimidation in the schools; and anti-Semitic activity on the college campus.
This is from the FBI for 2005:
Religion: 1,227 1,314 1,405 580
Anti-Jewish 848 900 977 364
Anti-Catholic 58 61 61 22
Anti-Protestant 57 58 58 32
Anti-Islamic 128 146 151 89
Anti-Other Religion 93 102 106 54
Anti-Multiple Religions, Group 39 42 47 18
Anti-Atheism/Agnosticism/etc. 4 5 5 1