It is a time for standing up and being counted
September 11, 2020
Within weeks of closing the doors to the Holocaust Center because of COVID, we hosted our first virtual event - our Yom HaShoah commemoration for an audience of over 500 people. Professional development programs, including our annual Norman Wall Summer Teachers Institute followed, allowing us to virtually reach teachers, students and so many others well beyond our Central Florida community.
Our world had already been turned upside down by the pandemic when the killing of George Floyd triggered protests around the country and here at home. As an organization dedicated to using the history and lessons of the Holocaust to create a just and caring community free of antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry, we couldn't remain silent. We wouldn't remain silent.
We know what happened when antisemitism went unchecked and unchallenged; when propaganda and misinformation replaced the truth; when good people stood by in silence. Tess Wise's speech at the dedication of our 1994 building expansion guided our response:
A wise man once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I know, because I once was there when evil triumphed. If this evil should ever again triumph, it will not be because I did nothing. I know it's important for you to be able to say the same thing to yourself."
Our years of experience have shown us time and again that education is the most powerful way to touch hearts and change minds. And so, we developed a virtual series titled "Strategies for Action" in order to facilitate difficult but necessary conversations about roots and history of racism. We also wanted to understand how to recognize our own personal biases and how to be an ally for racial justice. We invited our Orlando community to invest in their own personal learning by joining us for our bi-weekly lunch & learns. The response has been overwhelming. Over 700 people have participated thus far. For more information please visit our website. http://www.holocaustedu.org/event/sfa
Rosh Hashanah is a time for joy and of new beginnings. It is a time for counting our blessings and for standing up and being counted. Let us take advantage of our tradition of Tashlish to cast off behaviors we regret and vow to create a world where diversity is celebrated - a world that respects the dignity of all people.
On behalf of the board and staff of the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, Shanah Tovah Umetukah. We hope that you have a good and sweet year.