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Editorial: Pa. schools should teach about Holocaust

Pennsylvania Holocaust Mandate
Central High School Holocaust Symposium, April 2019

Pennsylvania does not require schools to teach about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations in general. It should not only require such teaching, but it should also set a baseline for a meaningful amount of instruction, enough to make it meaningful to students.

A 2014 law called on the state Department of Education to “establish curriculum guidelines” addressing the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews during World War II, the anti-Semitism that fueled it, racism and other genocide and human rights violations including the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

The curriculum guidelines are excellent, calling for teaching aimed at raising students’ awareness of atrocities based on race, ethnicity or religion. The guidelines, for social studies and language arts classes, are age-appropriate, and the department offers sessions for teachers to gather knowledge and resources to offer instruction about large-scale hate-inspired murder.

The legislation called for mandated Holocaust education only if fewer than 90% of schools were offering it. A state study released in November 2017 found 93% of school entities were providing such instruction.

The Legislature’s call for action was probably a bit late. Most living Holocaust survivors are in their 80s or older now, and they are the best people to deliver the message that students need to hear: My family and I were targeted because of our religion. Innocent of any crime, we were sentenced to die by our government.

Chuck Feldman, President, HAMEC

And those messages are effective, according to Chuck Feldman, president of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that sends Holocaust survivors to schools to tell their stories.

Feldman described student reaction to the center’s programs as “nothing short of amazing. They’re mesmerized.”

According to what school administrators and teachers tell him, “Our survivors make a tremendous impact on their students.

“They mob these survivors like they’re rock stars. They have their pictures taken with them. The most frequent phrase we hear made to the survivors is ‘You changed my life.’ And that’s what education is supposed to do.”

Amanda J. Hornberger, coordinator of the Lakin Holocaust Library and Resource Center at Albright College, said school districts in Berks County offer instruction on the subject but that she doubts many of them provide more than a day of such teaching per year. And more than that is needed urgently, she said. Given recent acts of violence driven by racial and ethnic hatred, “I think it’s important to teach students about this right now.”

While we often wish to think American society has moved beyond ethnic and racial hatred, it clearly has not.

The man who opened fire Aug. 3 in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more, wrote a manifesto saying that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

In October of last year, 11 worshipers were shot to death in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The criminal complaint against the suspect in that shooting, Robert Bowers, 46, says he told a SWAT officer he wanted all Jews to die and that “they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people.”

Twelve states mandate Holocaust instruction. Pennsylvania is not one of them. Feldman makes a good case for changing that.

“Obviously we would like 100% of schools to do it (offer Holocaust and genocide education),” he said. “And it is unfortunately still necessary. … Hate never takes a vacation and neither can we.”

Pennsylvania school districts understandably dislike mandates, but this is one the state should impose and educators should embrace.

It’s hard to say never again regarding the Holocaust if we don’t ensure our children understand what Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime did during World War II. Hitler was an elected official. He carried out a terror campaign that targeted Jews and other minorities. The U.S. government ignored evidence of these atrocities and refused to adopt what could have been a lifesaving easing of immigration restrictions on European Jews.

The steps taken by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 2014 through 2017 to provide curriculum and instruction on the Holocaust and genocide are positive. More needs to be done. Pennsylvania should adopt a mandate to raise awareness to what can happen if hate is allowed to fester or is ignored.

Via The Reporter
August 30, 2019

Man Vandalizes Holocaust Memorial In Center City

Vandalism strikes at Holocaust Memorial in Center City

“Once he was in front of the pillars of the Holocaust Memorial on the 1600 block of the Ben Franklin Parkway, he used an unknown object to carve “RBM” and two SS bolts into the pillars.”Vandalism Strikes at Holocaust Memorial in Center City
Read the full story here.

We understand that because hate never takes a vacation, neither can we. The recent vandalism at the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial in Center City is another reminder that in addition to being vigilant against the haters among us we must do our best to prevent others from joining their ranks. Our mission to educate as many young people as we can about the horrible consequences of hatred is driven by our many survivors and volunteers and hundreds of members.

We don’t know if the perpetrator of this vile act and others who have done far worse including murder, had listened to a Holocaust survivor while in school would have still acted in this evil manner.

We do know that among the over 250,000 students our Survivors reached in the last 10 years there are a great many whose lives have been changed for the better. For them and all of us. How do we know? They and their teachers have told us! Please join us in our ongoing and unfortunately necessary cause.

Donate to Support Our Work Book a Program Volunteer

Sad News Regarding Larry Buchsbaum

Larry BuchsbaumWe are saddened to announce that Larry Buchsbaum, a prominent figure in the Philadelphia Holocaust survivor community, passed away on Friday evening, April 26th. He was always concerned about the education of students and was very detailed when he shared his story with them — He didn’t want them to forget. May his memory be for blessing.

Germany Agrees To Pay Kindertransport Survivors Who Escaped Nazis As Children

The German government has agreed to make a one-time payment to Kindertransport survivors — mostly Jewish children who were evacuated to Britain and other places to escape the Nazi’s wrath on the precipice of World War II.


The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, announced on Monday that the government will pay €2,500 (a little more than $2,800 U.S.) to each living person who made it out of Nazi-controlled countries, including Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Free City of Danzig, as part of the humanitarian rescue effort.

An estimated 10,000 children under the age of 17 were eventually relocated primarily to Britain through Kindertransport, as the operation was informally named. Most of the children were never reunited with their parents, many of whom were murdered during the Holocaust.

Read More

Sad News Regarding Klara Vinokur

We are saddened to announce that Klara Vinokur has passed away.

Klara Vinokur

Klara came from the city of Shpola. From 1941-2 the Nazis came in and destroyed the Jewish population. Klara was about 13 years old and was sent to a forced labor camp. Her younger brother, Gregory, was murdered in Shpola. She worked until she became ill. She was sent to the infirmary (with no medicine or treatment). After a week she and 19 others were taken out of the camp to the nearby woods where 2 pits had been dug (10 Jews for each pit). Somehow she instinctively dove into some bushes just as the firing squad began to fire and simultaneously it began to rain. She survived. She went back to Shpola and hid until the Soviet forced liberated the city. She took soil from the pit she was scheduled to be killed in and kept that soil next to her bed the rest of her life.

Afterwards, became a teacher and taught in Kiev. She provided leadership in the building of a monument Kiev to the victims of the Babi Yar massacres. A second monument was built which better represented the truth of the Babi Yar massacre.

Eventually she came to the United States. Here she helped with establishing a memorial to the victims of the Babi Yar massacre (located in Montefiore Cemetery). She organized annual remembrance ceremonies at Montefiore, carefully supervising each detail for the ceremonies. A few years ago she passed on leadership for the Babi Yar memorial ceremony but continued to participate in each program.

In 2001 she became an active member of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center when it returned to Philadelphia. She talked to groups. She helped to set up displays in our showcases. She helped to translate material from Russian into English. She was, also, a member of our board for all these years.

View part of her testimony here from our Holocaust Legacy Library

Read her one page biography here

Sad News Regarding Erica Herz Van Adelsberg

We are saddened to announce that Erica Herz Van Adelsberg has passed away.

Erica Paulette (nee Herz), of Wynnewood, PA, passed peacefully on 16 November 2018 — loving mother of Judith (Michael) Berman and David (Lisa) van Adelsberg; grandmother of Oren (Ines) and Noah (Naama) Berman, Hunter and Anastasia van Adelsberg; great-grandmother of Nina Berman; sister of Ernest Hilton; former wife of the late Martin van Adelsberg.

Services will be Sunday November 18, 2018, at noon at Beth David, Reform Congregation, 1130 Vaughan Lane, Gladwyne, PA. Interment will follow at Hayim Solomon Memorial Park, Frazer, PA.

Shiva will be held Sunday evening November 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm (minyan at 7:30 pm), at the Greenhill Condominiums, East Building, 1001 City Avenue. Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Erica was a life-long educator and retired as the Director of Foreign Languages of the Philadelphia School District. She was a Holocaust survivor and generously shared, with people of all ages around the globe, her story of finding humanity even in the darkest of times. She published her life story, Feeling Great and Grateful in 2013. Her family has asked that, to honor her legacy and further her mission of spreading understanding and tolerance, donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, Kleinlife, Suite 210, 10100 Jamison Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116

Make a gift in memory of Erica


Press Release – HAMEC Condemns Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg For Not Removing Holocaust Denial Content

HAMEC Condemns Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg For Not Removing Holocaust Denial Content

June 23, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to stop the dissemination of Holocaust deniers on its platform where 6.8 million impressionable children are using it every month. We call on Zuckerberg to swiftly and permanently ban any and all Holocaust denial content and profiles that promulgate this hatred. It is this type of fake accusations that assist anti-Semitic haters to recruit others who are not yet their supporters. The Holocaust Awareness Museum and Educator Center is dedicated to supporting truthful information about the Holocaust.

In the words of Professor Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University, “Deniers, who today clearly feel more emboldened than ever before, are not the equivalents of flat-earth theorists, nor are they just plain loonies. As a person who created and provides a platform for the dissemination of information on an awesome scale, Zuckerberg must recognize that theirs is not a cognitive error or a regrettable misinterpretation or failure in judgment that can be rectified by showing them documentation or evidence. They are white supremacists and anti-Semites. Their agenda is to reinforce and spread the very hatred that produced the Holocaust.”

We feel this is a teachable moment and reminds us that our mission, educating youth, is never done. Our speakers bureau never rests and never tires of sharing their experiences with students in Philadelphia and the world beyond. This year nearly 37,799 students and adults learned about the Holocaust from our 30 Holocaust survivors, liberators, and resistance fighters. The lessons imparted by our heroes about the consequences of prejudice, hatred, and racism help ensure that tolerance, acceptance and multiculturalism will defend against Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitism.

The Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center is the premier provider of Holocaust education programs in the Delaware Valley. The museum is dedicated to educating students about the consequences of intolerance and hate. Each year museum programs provide students with Holocaust survivor presentations, school visits, videos, and plays such as the Anne Frank Theater Project. HAMEC is a non-profit organization supported by grants from the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany, government and foundation grants and private donations.

Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center
KleinLife, Suite 210
10100 Jamison Ave,
Philadelphia PA 19116
Phone: 215.464.4701

Annual Professional Development Bus Trip, June 21, 2018

Professional Development Bus Trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust Thursday, June 21st, 2018 ACT 48 credit hours offered Guided tour of core exhibitions and professional workshop Every Object Tells a Story, exploring using artifact images in the classroom Participants will receive 6 teachers’ guides, …