Congregations meeting in gyms: 2-17-12
Finding our moral center: 2-20-12

New Holocaust students: 2-18/19-12

As someone who has written about the Holocaust in blog postings, columns and my latest book, I am always glad to see others become interested in learning about this genocide.


That's especially true as the time between World War II and now grows and as fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remain alive. Indeed, four of the approximately 20 survivors my co-author and I wrote about in They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust, already have died since the book was published in late 2009.

So I was glad to see two recent stories that describe how new generations of people are gaining an interest in the Holocaust and what its history can mean to them.

First, there's this New York Times report from Jerusalem about the growing number of people who are coming to Yad Vashem (pictured here) in Jerusalem to learn. Yad Vashem, which I plan to visit in April, is Israel's Holocaust memorial authority.

It's the agency that honors non-Jews who helped to save Jews in the Holocaust with the title "Righteous Among the Nations" once the story has been verified.

As The Times reports, "Seven decades after the Holocaust, with its survivors rapidly dying, the most systematic slaughter in human history is taking on a growing and often unexpected role in education across the globe."

The other is a piece I read in the print version of the current issue of The National Catholic Reporter. (I didn't think it would get posted online but that happened yesterday, so click here for the whole piece.)

The story describes the various ways in which young people in Poland now are learning about what happened in the Holocaust in their own communities.

The story, "Educators revive history of Poland's Jews," pays special attention to the work of The School of Dialogue, which NCR says is "intended to recapture the lost history of the Jewish presence in Poland." It's a presence, by the way, that goes back centuries, not merely decades.

The lessons of the Holocaust certainly aren't limited to Jews and those who sought to murder all of them. Rather, there are universal lessons contained within the particular stories, and if we miss those we do so at our own peril.

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Clearly we're not doing enough to educate Americans about the constitutionally based requirements of church-state separation. Otherwise, people in Rhode Island wouldn't be making life miserable for a 16-year-old who successfully challenged a printed prayer hanging in a public school. Now she's the target of threats and abuse.


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