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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Holocaust message reaches new faces (VIDEO)

Growing up in a place as diverse as Boston, it’s hard to imagine reaching adulthood without knowing about the Holocaust.
But for many immigrants, that’s the reality.Before I came to the U.S., I knew about World War II but didn’t know about the Holocaust,” said 33-year-old pianist Aly Tejas, who emigrated out of Cuba in 1999. “And still, I don’t know much about it. What I have found out has been through things like the news.”
Franklin Soults, communications director for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said Tejas’ experience is not uncommon.
“There isn’t necessarily the same level of knowledge. That isn’t because there’s disinterest in the topic,” Soults said. “But people coming from other sectors of the world are learning about different things.
Boston’s Jewish community will come together today at Faneuil Hall for Holocaust Remembrance Day. More than 600 people are expected to attend the event to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council, one of the co-sponsors. Rena Finder, a Schindler’s List survivor, and children of Holocaust survivors will speak at the program to spread the mantra of Holocaust remembrance, “never forget.”
That’s also a goal at Brookline-based organization Facing History and Ourselves, which links history to moral choices and combats prejudices such as anti-Semitism through education.
Its primary case study is the Holocaust, and program coordinator Jeremy Nesoff said he encounters kids who might have a vague idea of what the Holocaust was, but don’t know a lot about Jewish culture in general.
“In Providence, we were looking at this amazing resource, a book of diaries from teenagers living through the Holocaust,” Nesoff said. “One of the diaries is by a boy named Klaus Langer from Germany, and one of the kids’ questions was, ‘Was he writing in Jewish?’ ”
Nesoff said it’s not so uncommon to find young people whose awareness of the Holocaust is lacking.
“Through no fault of his own, this kid just hadn’t been exposed to what it means to be Jewish and the range of Jewish identity,” he said.

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