Focus of Shoa

Focus of Shoa

Johanna Ginsberg’s excellent article provoked much-needed discussion on the direction of Holocaust remembrance and education (“

The Holocaust Council of MetroWest remains completely focused on the Shoa and its complex, painful, yet fascinating history and its effects on the present. This includes the surge in global anti-Semitism — which owes a good deal of its animus to the virulent propaganda the Nazis created and propagated throughout the Muslim world — as well as lessons of courage and defiance as exemplified by Jews and Righteous Gentiles.

“Remember and tell” were the last words of the victims, and this is our mission.Through our programs, students tour our exhibits, participate in the Rubell Remembrance Journeys to the U.S.Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and meet survivors. These students become witnesses to the eyewitnesses.

Recently at Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit, bat mitzva Ella Gottesman DeBode delivered a powerful talk on her survivor “twin,”Nessa Ben Asher.To say that the congregation was moved would be a glaring understatement.Thanks to Ella, no one who was there will forget Nessa’s story of sorrow and despair that metamorphosed into courage and heroism.

Yes, we talk about other genocides in relation to the Holocaust but it is the Shoa that remains the touchstone for all subsequent genocides. The late Sister Rose Thering always said, “When you teach the Holocaust, you teach everything.”

We remain concerned that the Shoa not be subsumed into other genocides because it was unique in history. As Elie Wiesel says, “Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.” The losses experienced in terms of lives, culture, and scholarship continue to leave a void that will never be filled. Thus, we are vigilant about teaching the Holocaust to students, educators, and the community.

This year, the council helped plan and develop 16 local Yom Hashoa commemorations. We continue to rescue and preserve testimonies, documents, and artifacts. Programs like “Real to Reel” and “Lunch and Learn” grow in attendance.We encourage and mentor teachers through the “Teaching Trunks” program and through scholarships. One of the council’s former interns just graduated with a master’s in Holocaust studies. Our newest initiative, “Shoa Stories on Stage,” is proving highly successful.

We are most grateful to the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest and the Darivoff Family Foundation for making all this possible and to all our supporters; United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ; and our dedicated board members, survivors, docents, and volunteers.

Barbara Wind
Holocaust Council of MetroWest

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