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2019 International Holocaust Commemoration Day

2019 International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust was marked today by a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in NY, which took place at the General Assembly. The focal point emphasized by all speakers was the critical importance of Holocaust education, the lessons that need to be learned from the Holocaust, and the questions that need to be asked, such as: what have the survivors learned from their terrible experiences, what would they want us to remember and tell, how to educate future generations not only about what happened during the Holocaust, not only about the problem of Antisemitism, but about the conditions and processes that allow such hatred of the “other” and genocide to take place.

The speakers included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the 73rd  session of the United Nations General Assembly, Danny Danon, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations,  Mr. Jonathan Cohen, Charge D’Affaires, United States Mission to the United Nations , Ms Sara Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Mr. Sandro de Bernardin, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as well as two Holocaust survivors, Ms. Inge Auerbacher and Mr. Marian Turski.

While all speakers emphasized the critical importance of education about the history of the Holocaust and its lessons for the current global social and political realities, there was a palpable sense of elevated concern, following recent large-scale surveys among current citizens of Europe, Canada and the USA which showed shockingly high percentages of individuals who have no knowledge about the Holocaust, and were unaware of the fact that Auschwitz was a death camp, or other basic important facts about the decimation of the European Jewry. Making Holocaust Education a high priority in schools in all states in the US and in all UN member countries was highlighted as a critical goal.

In a separate effort to honor the International Holocaust Commemoration Day, Yeshiva University posted a special article for the occasion as well as essays by several Yeshiva University faculty members, including myself. The main article about the observance can be found at this link, while my article can be found at this link.

                  Irit Felsen



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