A Message from the President
The Holocaust was a time of unimaginable loss and seemingly relentless darkness. Yet, sparks of hope survived. The Jewish people survived. Our Museum was formed and together, with our survivors, educators, and friends, we built a community committed to teaching the lessons of the Holocaust, promoting tolerance and respect, and educating the next generations. We come together in schools, at the Museum, at community events and commemorations, and for today’s joyful celebration honoring Paul and Judy Galan and Jules and Lila Stern. The Holocaust Museum and Study Center survives today because of these most worthy honorees.
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released the much-anticipated 2013 Survey of U.S. Jews, which is the first comprehensive national survey of American Jews in more than a dozen years. According to the survey results, when Jews were asked what is essential to their own sense of Jewishness, 73% said remembering the Holocaust. This is an opportunity for us as a museum—if the vast majority of Jews feel that remembering the Holocaust is essential to their Jewish identity we need to make sure the Holocaust Museum and Study Center is essential to the Jews of Rockland County and the surrounding areas.
Today is an opportunity. Learn about Education Award recipient Travis Jackson and the Suffern Middle School program that owes its success to his advocacy. Listen to Dr. Judea Pearl, who, when faced with the horror of losing his son, created a foundation to honor Daniel Pearl’s legacy and carry on his mission of bringing joy and understanding to the world. The Foundation seeks to promote tolerance and respect for people of all cultures and uses education and communication to foster peace. Remember Daniel Pearl’s last words: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” Bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences, teach the lessons of the past to prevent future genocides, and continue to support and protect this Museum.
Life is about choices. Every single day, we make them. We decide whether to stand by or intervene. We decide whether to smile uncomfortably or reject hateful and stereotypical talk. We decide whether to fade into the background or lead by example. As the years go by, our survivors are leaving us. That is the reality. Take down their stories and commit to bringing them out of the painful darkness and into the light. Decide to make the choice of civility, acceptance, and respect. Speak up and lead by example. Combat anti-Semitism and racism. Together, we can change the world.
Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky