REPAIR THE WORLD HOLOCAUST & HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION Spring 2021
April is Genocide Awareness Month
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman
Honoring Prince Philip
Un-learning to Learn: communism, socialism, fascism, and sociopolitical violence.
Yom Hashoah 76 years later
Table of Contents Letter from the Editor pg. 3 Interdisciplinary Holocaust Teachers Symposium pg. 4 Pesach around the world pg. 5 Sephardim Recipes for Pesach pg. 7 In honor of Prince Philip pg. 11 Buttermilk Scones pg. 12 Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman pg. 16 Un-Learning to Learn pg. 32 Yom Hashoah 2021 - 76 years later pg. 41 Beauty of Diversity - April is Asian History Month pg. 48 April is Genocide Awareness Month pg. 50
Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Letter from the Editor Am Ysrael Chai! The Spring Season brings with it many reminders to the Jewish people of the many times we were almost wiped off the face of the Earth, but through the Grace of G_d and the strength and resiliency of the Jewish community and the righteousness of so many non-Jews, we can now say - we are still here. The People of Israel Live! In this issue you will have access to educational resources and opportunities for professional development and growth. Although the featured story is Yom Hashoah, we will be featuring the story of one or two survivors/WWII veterans/righteous people in each issue. This is the most intentional Holocaust & Human Rights educational publication. We invite you to be a part of our growth by submitting lesson plans, stories from your classroom, articles, sharing it with others and more. We have many new projects we are working on to help elevate teacher trainings, teacher and student experiences, and so much more! But we need your help to see them come to fruition.Click on the QR code for unique membership opportunities for survivors, teachers, and community members.
To make a tax deductible contribution or donation please send checks to: The Harold E Simon Family Foundation c/o Zachor Shoah 8925 SW 148 Street suite #218 Miami FL 33176 *memo line with Zachor Shoah specific program you wish to support : (Training & Events - Publications - Gardens) or leave blank for general support. pg 3
Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Pesach around the world!
TRY THESE TRADITIONS AND RECIPES WIT H Y O UR FAMILY & FRIENDS
Passover - Pesach-Pesaj It may not be a High Holy day, but more Jews gather with family to celebrate Pesach than any other holiday. It is the holiday that most connects us to the secular world all while centering on the spiritual and religious world. It is the bridge between ourselves, our souls, and worlds. There is no greater embodiment of this universality than the varied expressions of the holiday. All include the Seder plate with its symbolic foods. Every Jewish community around the world has the same items on their plate and all have Matzah. But the preparation and presentation of the foods, and the traditions, vary from community to community reflecting their locations and interactions with local non-Jewish peoples throughout history. What a great way to connect to the long, vibrant traditions of the diasporasymbolically travel to a different diaspora community this next Pesach! https://reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/passover/10-passover-recipesaround-world
Are you too attached to your family foods? why not try a new dessert instead? Try my favorite Gato De Muez De Pesah (Walnut and Orange Passover Cake) - (found on the next page) pg 6
Gato De Muez De Pesah (Walnut and Orange Passover Cake)
Orange Honey Almond Cake Originally from the Galicia region of Spain, this "Tarta de Santiago" nutty dessert is extremely popular and is part of pretty much every restaurant menu across the country. The traditional recipe is basically made from ground almonds, eggs, sugar and orange zest and is often paired with an alcoholic drink, like sweet wine or brandy. This recipe is super simple, fast and easy to prepare. And the perfect way to end your Holiday dinner Enjoy!
Orange Honey Almond Cake Recipe prep time:15 mins cook time: 30 mins yield: 10
Ingredients: 2 cups almond meal (for Passover use finely ground almonds) 1 ½ tsp baking powder 2 jumbo eggs (or 3 large eggs) ½ cup confectioner's sugar ⅓ cup honey 1 tsp natural vanilla extract Pinch of salt Zest of 1 medium orange (or to taste) ¼ cup shelled walnuts roughly chopped
Procedure: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 inch round cake pan. Using a pencil, trace a circle the size of the pan on parchment paper and cut it out. Place it at the bottom of the greased pan and press it down, so it fits well all around. Place oven rack in medium-low position Combine almond meal and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside Combine eggs, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Beat using an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes. Add orange zest and almond meal/baking powder mixture and mix until just combined Fold in chopped pistachios and pour batter into greased pan. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes o until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool. Place a large place over the pan and turn it over. The cake should release easily. Carefully peel off the parchment paper. *Decorate with powdered sugar and orange zest. pg 8
Its not just the ingredients that make it Kosher for Passover...its the prep time too. So be sure to pre-measure everything before getting started. All ingredients must be mixed, rolled out and put into the oven before the 14 min mark! pg 10
Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021
In Honor of Prince Philip Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, passed away at the age of 99, just shy of his 100th birthday, earlier this past April. The Prince's mother was a Righteous gentile, as she saved Jews by hiding them in her palace in Greece. She could have chosen to simply live her life ignoring what the Nazis were doing, especially as her daughters were newly married to Nazis and her son was in the British Navy sinking German ships. But she chose to risk everything, including her life, to save Jews . She saved the entire Cohen family and never told anyone of her heroism. Prince Philip was the first member of the British Royal family to visit Israel, having received special permission to travel as his own person and not a diplomatic representative as the latter presented issues at the time. In honor of Prince Philip we are including recipes for traditional English Afternoon tea. Read more about this interesting aspect of the Houses of Battenburg & Windsor: https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-day-prince-philip-spoke-at-yadvashem-on-mans-capacity-for-inhumanity/
Buttermilk Scones Recipe: makes 16 small scones (the size of a dinner roll) Prep time: 30 mins Cook time: 15 mins Ingredients: 3 cups all purpose flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp salt 2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 3/4 cup unsalted butter (frozen and grated) 1 cup buttermilk *no buttermilk, no problem: make your own - to every 1 cup milk add 2 tsp white vinegar and let sit for 5 min. Preheat oven to 400 degrees grease cookie sheet Procedure: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients add the grated butter mix with pastry cutter or clean hands until mixture looks course make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add buttermilk. mix until combined with hands or wooden spoon. DO NOT OVER MIX! *add grated citrus peel, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries, etc. (optional) Transfer to floured surface. Divide into 2. Knead lightly- just enough to make 3/4 inch thick 6 inch circles. Cut 8 wedges. Bake 12-15 min until golden brown. Serve warm with Lemon curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream pg 13
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Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Hershel (of Blessed Memory) & Zelda Fuksman
Hershel Fuksman passed away last April. As personal friends of Zelda Fuksman, we offer this issue as a tribute to Hershel, his life, and his efforts to help educators share the story of the Holocaust. In this first issue to shine a light on a survivor's story we choose to showcase Hershel Fuksman.
May His Memory Be a Blessing.
Special Thanks to The Child Survivors/Hidden Children of the Holocaust Palm Beach County FL for their stories and permission to publish them among our pages.
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival Before you begin reading Hershel's account of his early years, be sure to keep in mind the dates as they relate to his age. This will help you better understand the miracle of his survival.
Our apartment on Warshawska, with its large windows, sparkled with cleanliness and streams of sunshine. I was born on Feb. 28, 1933. As the first grandchild, I was a joy to both sides of the family. My parents indulged me with toys of the day and "My world, my town, Piaseczno, even at age three with an electric car, Poland, only 16 kilometers south of which I rode on the sidewalks with skill Warsaw, was where my family lives and pleasure. My memories of those honorable lives for many days fill me with a longing for those generations. They worked hard and people. loved their families and were Friday outings to the town square, strongly connected to the Jewish life. with its plaza surrounded by buildings My mother, Prywa, was one of and the impressive steeple of the five sisters (Golde, Mechle, Blime, church tower, was the focus of the Fiege) and two brothers (Moishe Byk day. This is were a weekly market and Faivel). She and her sisters were displayed foods and goods. The air admired as great beauties of the was filled with aromas and clamor. My town. My father, Leibel, had a mother and I explored the stands, younger brother, Munish, and a large taking home fruits and fresh groceries. extended family of grandparents, She then prepared delicious meals great-grandparents and even a great and special treats to entice my finicky great-grandmother. appetite. Saturdays, after attending Mother and father were synagogue, we joined father's family childhood sweethearts and married for hot cholent (crock-pot oven dish), with approval from both families. which brought contentment and lulled Father's trade as a shoemaker all to retreat for a nap. Life was good earned enough to supply us with all for me. our needs. pg 17
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival Although the elders were Orthodox in their beliefs and looked for answers from the Almighty, my father was a progressive thinker and had leftist ideals. They proclaimed that were equal and that Jews had the same rights as all people. The expression of Antisemitism and learning about the beating of Jews by hateful hooligans was a weekly occurrence. Somehow learning to live with these expressions of hate, the population attributed these acts to drunkenness, stupidity and ignorance of the assailants. In the years before the German attack on Poland, many stories reached our area regarding abuse, arrests, and killings. Father, not wanting to become a prisoner, especially since he would be accused of being a Communist, left Piaseczno in August 1939 with reassurances that he would send a messenger to bring us to him as soon as he was settled. Mother was in her early months of pregnancy.
On Friday, September 1, 1939, the market was bustling with people when two German soldiers, one on the motorcycle and the other sitting in the side car, caused a stir of curiosity and apprehension. They asked directions to a beer hall. That midnight mother woke me in a panic and said that our building was on fire. Looking through the window, the sky was aglow with streaks of light from the tracer bullets. As we were getting out of the house, a German soldier, with a machine gun, shouted at us to get back in. We had no choice but to obey. The smoke was thick; it was difficult to breath. Again we tried to get out and this time a Polish soldier carrying a rifle said to us: "Why are you in this burning house?" Mother told him about the German soldier who threatened us with his gun to get back in. The Polish soldier instructed us to stay low and led us to a safe house. As he was opening the door to the courtyard, I heard a loud noise and saw our soldier fall to the ground; pg 18
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival he was shot dead by the Germans. We hurriedly continued into one of the houses, went upstairs, and found a safe corner in which to hide. World War II began with bombs exploding and shooting all around us. Civilians were targeted on purpose in order to break morale and make the population submissive. The Germans dynamited some buildings that the bombers had not destroyed. The next day all was quiet. The streets were littered with dead people and cavalry horses. We had to step over bodies. We could not avoid the carnage that was all around us. The Germans came in and controlled with directives and with threats to life. Immediately, the German conscripted all Jewish men and had them dig mass graves to bury the dead. They had the men clean the streets of debris that had fallen leaves from one place and then back. They created work when no special
work was available or needed. These acts, singling out the Jewish population, caused confusion, anxiety, and fear. The oppression of the populace was immediate. They issued ration cards to control the population. When we ventured outside, the Polish women accosted mother mother and me, stripping us of any valuables including outer jackets and shoes, to the approving looks of the Germans. My mother used her courageous attitude to stand her ground and not succumb to abuse. She retaliated, turning the tables against the Polish women. She told the German soldiers that they were speaking and cursing the soldiers and Germany. The soldiers chased the women away who yelled at mother "Zhydowka (Jewish) Witch,"which fortunately the Germans did not understand. We returned to our burned out leakyroofed house and continued to live in one room trying to keep warm and dry as winter approached. We waited for the guide to come and take us away to meet up with father.
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival Mother struggled to keep us fed. The rations offered very little food so she resorted to barter for anything that she had, to keep us going. Most of the support came from my father's family who wanted us to move in with them, but mother would not hear of it; she was sure the guide was coming and wanted to be in the place where he would find us. We lived under the Germans for more than five months. Finally in February, 1940, the promised guide appeared to take us away. Mother packed two suitcases for herself, a back pack and small suitcase for me, ready to follow the guide. We made the rounds to our family, saying goodbye. They tried to convince mother to remain, especially since she was far along in her pregnancy. Mother, in turn, begged them to come with us, but they refused and stated that they would be okay, that once the Germans established their power things would not be bad.
I knew that a great change was happening in my young life but could not possibly understand, just as no one could fathom the devastation that would happen to my dear family. Our first journey with the guide was on a train that lasted about half a day. It was an adventure that I was afraid to explore or enjoy because mother warned me to remain quiet, unnoticed. We then continued on a horse-drawn wagon to a small village not far from Bialystok. The guide directed us to the border and said that he would not continue with us. He also told us that the only way to get in was to sneak in. We listened to the guide's instructions and stood at a distance trying to figure out a strategy. We saw that most were turned away, beaten, and some arrested. Mother saw our dilemma and could not arrive at a solution of how to succeed. The village was overrun with refugees; we could not find anyone to take us in. For days we rattled about without any hope of crossing. We were hungry and without shelter. Following the example of others, mother dug us in a deep shelter in a large haystack, pg 20
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival night after night. The Germans and collaborators patrolled the haystacks and poked them with large pitchforks to expose and even kill the refugees. Mother covered me with her body and said, " If I get hit, in the morning go to the border and cross by yourself. Your father will be there." We lived like this for two weeks, staying in the same clothes and not taking off our boots, which caused our legs to swell. Two weeks is an eternity to live with hardly any food or shelter. Mother became desperate and came up with a plan. She said with determination, "Today we cross. Whatever I do you do and don't question me." We approached the border without being detected and then turned about and began to walk backwards to appear as if we were escaping into Poland. The guard stopped us, asking where we were going to which mother answered, " I don't want to be in
Bialystok, I am going back to Poland." This ruse worked. He ordered us to return back to Bialystok to the Russian side. With nerve and the last effort, we walked into Russia. This success rejuvenated us, especially since we hoped to be reunited with father. And as we were walking deeper a few yards, there was father, just a short distance away, with a happy grin, holding a large loaf of bread for us. Our reunion was emotional and with great relief, hugging, crying. Father took me in his arms and carried me to his apartment. To be able to be in a dwelling, to take off our coats was a pleasure, but because our legs were swollen, father had to cut off the boots from our feet. Life in Bialystok was a struggle. It was overflowing with refugees. We shared our meager quarters with our hometown acquaintances, which made our life feel more connected to our homes. Even though father's trade our subsistence , he thought it would be better to get away from the border with an offer of a better job in Magnitogorsk, where my brother was born in March 1940.
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival The conditions there were appalling. We lived in a room of a barrack, sharing the primitive facilities with other workers. The winter was brutal and after a month my parents decided to go back to Bialystok, to our rooms where we left our Piaseczno friends. After a few days, in the middle of the night, a knocking sent the two single young men hiding in the attic, as father answered the door. Without any ceremony or advising why, he was arrested and taken away. After days of searching for answers why father was taken and how to get him released, mother found out that he was inducted into the Soviet army. The Soviets questioned and asked her if she wanted to remain in Bialystok Russia [now Poland]., to which she replied that she wanted to go back to her family mow that she was alone with two children. They registered her and calmly assured her that she would be sent back as soon as there was
transportation. About June 1940, the police came to take us to the train to travel to Poland; instead we, including our apartment companions, became political prisoners and were sent off to Wak Wat - KOMI USSR, Siberia. Our group of 100 families and a number of children, all Jews, were deposited in two log barracks with big gaps to expose the weather, in the depth of a Siberian forest. Finding ourselves in this foreign place with strangers, with only a couple of acquaintances from our hometown was a shock. The severe conditions, great hunger, without funds and very little left to barter, put us off balance. Mother was required to work in the forests, chopping down trees to match a quota, for which she received 100 grams of bread to feed herself without any consideration or provisions for me. My little brother, three months old, was held in a nursery school during the day, where he received meager food, while I remained in the barrack to fend for myself without anyone to look over me or provide for me. Mother and her friend Herman found jobs after they finished their shift pg 22
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival chopping down trees. They worked for the natives in the garden, cleaned houses, took care of farm animals, just to earn another piece of bread, a potato, a handful of grain, or an onion. The indigenous people were Tartars, most were Muslims. They are fair-skinned with Mongol features. During these long hungry days, I ventured outside exploring and was befriended by an old Tartar woman who had no children of her own and took a liking to me. She sneaked some food to me, hiding me in her skirt folds so that her husband would not see. We were imprisoned in this bitter land for 18 months without hearing a word from father. The newspapers applauded the victories but we knew that the Communists exaggerated and knew that the casualties were great. Mother lamented that father had been killed and was convinced that she was alone,
a widow with two little children among strangers. The only security and trust that she had was in her hometown friend, who felt sorry for her and her plight and shared his occasional food packages that he received from his family in Kiev. These packages saved our lives. After two years, she married him and we became a family. Around October 1942, the Soviets offered the Polish men to train for the Anders Polish Army that was being formed in exile. This event freed us from Siberia (out of 100 families, only eight survived and only two children, my little brother and me) and we were able to resettle in Kyrgyzstan, Talman Kolchoz, at a communal farm. Many men volunteered, mostly single, without families, who trained to join Enders army and marched away towards the East and Iran. Evan though the climate in this area was warm most of the year, life was difficult and we suffered severe hunger. Mother and my stepfather tried anything they could to maintain us. Thanks to a Polish priest who my stepfather befriended and helped him as a go-between, he provided us with pg 23
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival a little food from time to time, which we were able to share with a number of refugees. After a few months at the farm, we moved to Bagish, Kyrgyzstan, where conditions did not improve, actually were even worse. The hunger was beyond endurance. For six months, the only food we had was grass, which mother boiled in water. The desperation to keep the body and soul together drove me to walk around the town singing songs- begging for food- and on occasion I was given a piece of bread, which I carried back with a sense of triumph to my mother. I did attend a Polish school with other Jewish children, walking 5 kilometers for two seasons, where we were given some food. I could not continue during the winter months because I had no shoes. I remember hearing that the war was raging and many casualties were falling. Yet, I hoped that an end to this brutal existence may come, especially
when on a few occasions we were doled out some American canned food. It seemed like another world was reaching out to us, the forgotten suffering displaced people. This meager, occasional gift was like opening a window, that something good is out there. We dreamed of not being hungry, of having a life that offered hope and a better tomorrow. By 1944, the war front was moving farther away from Russia. Conditions for the population began to improve and so it did for the displaced. Mother, with her dauntless dedication to save and sustain the family, began a little enterprise, to fry pirogy, thin dough buns filled with mashed potatoes. This was considered black marketeering and was really illegal under Communism, but she took the these chances to keep the family fed and by enlisting me as the peddler at the train station, I was less likely to be arrested as compared to an adult. When the war came to an end, the Polish citizens were given the opportunity to return back to Poland. We were a family of six now, two little sisters, my little brother, me and my parents. We boarded cattle cars on pg 24
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival April 9, 1946, and began our slow journey back home, to Poland. There were many rumors that terrible things happened in Poland. We wondered and contemplated what we would find of our previous lives and families. The journey of almost two months, being sidetracked often to give right-of-way to more important transport, again created problems in sustenance, how to maintain sanitary conditions, fresh water, no privacy even for personal needs. We were finally brought to Poland, where we were greeted with stones, jeers and shouts, "Zhydo Do Palestiny" - Jews to Palestine. The train took us directly to Stettin where the remnant survivors were gathered. Those that arrived right after the war were able to get housing, but our late arrival gave us only shelter in a bombed-out-building. Work was not available for Jews, even to sort bricks from
bombed-out-buildings. The only alternative was to stand in day-long lines for rations that were doled out to the masses by UNRA. The tragic history of what happened to all our families struck us with disbelief. How could such premeditated atrocities happen, helped by collaborators, neighbors? Our entire extended family was wiped out. no trace is left, no grave marker. They are part of the ashes of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek. The only family that I discovered years later were a couple of cousins who escaped to Russia and one hid in the forests and fought the Nazis with the partisans. Jews came to realize that Poland was not home anymore. People tried to get out by all means and so did we. After six months of struggling to keep the family fed and cared for, it was decided that we too must leave. The organized Jewish Bricha ("escape" in Hebrew) helped arrange clandestine crossings by paying off border patrol with some money, whiskey and/or sausages. We were taken in a canvas-covered truck, in the dark of night and brought to the displaced persons camp in the British pg 25
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival Zone, Bergen-Belsen, Germany. Bergen-Belsen was known for being a concentration camp, which killed people by sheer neglect, starvation, filth and disease in addition to being abused or beaten. The mass graves are a dimensional witness to the cruelty and murder that happened there. The Jewish DP camp leaders erected a monument to the victims of Bergen-Belsen, which remembers those who suffered and died with cruelty and were buried in mass graves. The truck brought us to another section where the German army barracks now served as housing and a means of survival for about 11,000 Jews from all parts of Europe. Bergen-Belsen, a tragic place for Jews, was also where the survivors renewed their lives and hopes for a future. Many young couples formed families, and the birth of children was extraordinary. The parade of young mothers with babies
was a defiance that Hitler and his followers did not succeed. My education really started here, in Bergen-Belsen. It first began in a Jewish Orthodox cheder (religious studies school) and then I transferred to the public school of the DP camp, where we learned Hebrew and other studies. I grew up taking on many responsibilities in helping our family succeed and provide our daily needs and concerns for the well-being of my siblings. In 1951, my family and I immigrated to the United States and settled in Chicago where we established roots and permanence without fear. I continued with my education while working to help the family. In 1954, I married Zelda Marbell. I served in the US Army from 1958 to 1960 as a medic and was stationed in Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. After we returned to Chicago, we again had to rebuild our lives. I became an insurance agent and a father of two wonderful daughters who provided us with two granddaughters. They are our symbol of rebirth, not only of our families but also the Jewish people and remembering the six million.
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival
In evaluating my life, my struggles and those of the murdered six million Jews has left me with a message and lesson that we must live our lives by extending dignity and acceptance of all people. We must guard against evil that would take away any rights of security, freedom of speech and religion. All people deserve their humanity and rights to a safe life!
Join us in lighting a candle for Hershel pg 27
Survivor Spotlight: Hershel Fuksman: A Story of Escape, Struggle, Survival Reflection Questions for Hershel Fuksman's testimony: 1. How does keeping track of Hershel's age throughout the events of his testimony help you feel connected to him and his plight? 2. Hershel's testimony shed light on a lesser known reality of the Holocaust - Jews who survived in Siberia. How does this part of the complex Holocaust history affect what you already thought or believed about this time period? 3. From his birth in 1933 to his immigration to the US at age 18, Hershel's entire childhood was full of uncertainty, hunger, fear, and loneliness (with the exception of his first 3 years of life). Do you think you would have remained as humble, kind, and calm as an adult as Hershel did? 4. Hershel is very clear about his journey from town to town. Create a map with pictures/descriptions of each place. 5. Hershel spent most of his time during the war in Siberia in Communist Russia. The people are not particularly generous and it would seem most live in poverty not just the Jewish refugees. Is this what you expected of a Communist society (one where all basic needs like food and shelter are reportedly provided by the government)? 6. What did you consider most interesting, inspiring, etc. from the reading?
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Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Un-learning in order to learn History is told by the victor, or so the saying goes. The official story is the widely accepted narrative of a historical event. This is nothing new to human social evolution. Knowing this is the case, we should be hyper-aware of the fact that history has many faces and that the official one is often a twisted tangled mess of lies, untruths, propaganda, and wishful thinking sprinkled with enough facts to make it credible. We, at Zachor Shoah, believe ignoring the ugly truths of history hurts our present and our future and prevents us from honoring all of humanity and healing our collective historical wounds.
1933 Antifa (KPD/Communist paramilitary group) Wiemar Germany pg 32
Few events in human history have left as deep of wounds on the collective human soul as WWI & WWII. They have literally left the face of the earth scarred. From space, pictures of the once war torn fields look like skin stitched together after massive surgery. A Frankenstein-ish result. And few historical events have deviated so much from factual truths in their official narratives either, leaving modern people to misinterpret, invent, and exaggerate about the worst human atrocities, beliefs, and behaviors in human history. Personally I see history as the macro-level of our micro-leveled personal relationships. In our personal lives we have jealousy, greed, loyalty, miscommunication, disappointment, love, kindness, etc. And we have consequences (positive and negative) to our interactions with others based on the listed emotions. The same is true between countries and cultures because they are led and governed by people who have all those emotions and experiences themselves. In my opinion, we can easily see which points in history have a truly distorted and unaddressed issue based in human psychology because we continue to grapple with the issue centuries later. Just as in our personal lives, that which is left unaddressed festers, so too with sociology-historical events. At first glance we can easily agree that among these issues is racism and antisemitism but with greater focus we can see that it also includes poverty and classism, imperialism and nationalism, and our relationship to God and Earth. Just like eating an elephant, this gigantic task must be dealt with one bite at a time. We cannot correct all the wrongs of the past in one issue or reading , but its a place to start. We have decided to start with Fascism and its many faces. In our first look at Un-learning to Learn we will look at the history of the relationship between communism, socialism, fascism, and sociopolitical violence.
For most of human history, our political systems have consisted of Monarchies and Empires. During the Age of Enlightenment, first in France and then in The USA, the ideas of self-governance emerged inspired by the democratic system of Ancient Greece and the Republic of Ancient Rome. With the American Revolutionary War's victory over the United Kingdom, began a slow and steady shift throughout the world in terms of imperialism and democratic systems of governance. Some time after, Karl Marx wrote his Communist manifesto and with it introduced the ideals of Socialism and Communism to the world as well. Many people, including many in the United States, believe the USA is a democracy. This is not true. The USA is a Constitutional Republic with democratically elected officials. What? Okay so lets begin with some basic definitions from Merriam-Webster: Democracy: a: government by the people, especially rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections Republic: a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president. b(1): a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law. *Note the main difference between democracy and republic: democracy is majority rule, while republic is ruled by citizens with the right to vote. This is significant for the USA for several reasons. 1. The electoral college was established to help maintain balance between highly populated states and lesser populated states when electing national leadership. 2. The smallest minority is the individual. In a democracy it is not the voice of the minority that is heard but that of the majority. Thus essentially eliminating the individual.
Socialism: 1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods 2a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state 3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done. Communism: 1a: a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed b: a theory advocating elimination of private property 2( when capitalized) a: a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the U.S.S.R. b: a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c: a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably d: communist systems collectively Note that there is little to no difference between Socialism and Communism. Both are systems of government that remove concepts of private property, nationalize all industry and infrastructure. The only true difference between the two is that Socialism still distributes goods according to work done while Communism does so based on need. Communism relies on Equitable distribution not merit on any level. Neither system values or promotes individualism or individuality. Both rely on collectivism. To date there has never been a Socialist society that did not become Communist (as Communism is the long term intended goal of Marxist ideology with Socialism as a stepping stone to it). To date, all societies that have embarked on Marxist ideology have collectively murdered over 100 million people in the struggle to dominate and silence the individual. pg 35
Fascism: (often capitalized): a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition 2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control. Nazism: the body of political and economic doctrines held and put into effect by the Nazis in Germany from 1933 to 1945 including the totalitarian principle of government, nation above the individual, centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition, predominance of especially Germanic groups (racial/Eugenics component) assumed to be racially superior, and supremacy of the führer- almost to a divine status. Note: Again there is very little difference between Fascism and Nazism with the most notable difference being that Nazism centers on racial and Eugenic theories of superiority and creates a cult-like adoration of the dictator "fuhrer". Otherwise, from a political and economic position both are nearly identical. Furthermore, from an economic and political perspective there is little distinction between Fascism/Nazism and Socialism/Communism in that all these systems deny the individual in exchange for "the state", have no political opposition allowed, and the central government has most if not all control over industry and infrastructure. Note that neither is exclusively the result of extreme conservative political thought. To the contrary, most politically conservative people would vehemently oppose these views as they oppress and deny the individual and private industry.
From 1776 to 1914, the ideals of "democracy and self-governance" were being perfected both in the USA and Europe (primarily France). On the onset of WWI, the world became instantly aware of the struggles between the old system of imperialism and the newer concept of self-governance through nationalism. Few people today realize this. They don't know that the Balkan states had been being paid by Archduke Ferdinand to accept their status as members of the Astro-Hungarian Empire; that tensions had been rising for some time as the Balkan states - culturally and religiously different from the rest of Europe had a desire to be free of that collective identity; that the Ottoman Empire - more aligned with the Muslim majority of the Balkans had been assisting them in training "resistance fighters" known as The Black Hand; that Archduke Ferdinand ran out of money to maintain the financial relationship between himself and his subjects; and was given warning of imminent danger but chose to ignore it. These events led to the declaration of war from Germany against the Balkans and soon after alliances that had been formed years prior based on imperialistic concerns regarding the Middle East, Africa and Asia resulted in World War I. It is therefore not surprising that the US was not involved in the war at its onset as the US, still considered a young country had only just begun to stabilize itself economically post-Civil War and was not an imperialistic power as were the other countries involved in the war. (Future issues will explore American imperialism and its birth via Yellow Journalism). Indeed the US enters the War because Russia pulls out of the war as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution. The years between 1914 and 1918 saw extreme change come to Europe. This affected the entire world as these were the imperialistic powers with colonies in every continent. WWI was not fought over the murder of an Emperor with bad leadership skills. It was fought to maintain the power and control over existing colonies both in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Germany feared their colonies would also seek independence and decided to declare war as vengeance for Austria-Hungary in an effort to quell the potential rebellion in their own lands. pg 37
France and the UK declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary in allegiance to Russia as it was inadvertently involved in the war via its colonies and alliances. World War I created some of the worst devastation the world had ever seen. In many ways the world is still recovering from it. The Somme, for example, will never be the same. Many scholars believe the time between the end of WWI and the start of WWII to be nothing more than a very long truce as so many of the international concerns, including Germany's imperialistic desires, Eugenics, and warring economic power structures were still present. It is this scholar's view that we have learned nothing and resolved nothing since then. The Earth bears witness to the human tragedies brought on by greed and power and a desire to deny individuality to others. We still have the same groups that caused chaos and violence and destruction in 1917 and 1923 and 1933 today. They often even have the same names: Antifa, Nazis, Fascists, Islamic Extremists, Communists, Marxists (and all affiliates). Our current environment (2020-2021) is not that different from the preworld war environments of Europe (either time). Like then, we face violent extremists waging a war of ideology on the streets seeking a complete cultural paradigm shift in the name of the collective good at the expense of the individual. As Holocaust educators, we have a responsibility to see the bigger picture. Was the Holocaust entirely about a millennium old hatred of Jews in Europe? Or was it part of a larger social paradigm shift? I say it was the latter, with Jews as the central target primarily because their refusal to convert made them the poster children of individual thought and individual freedoms in an environment that sought to squash those ideals for a collective good the Volk. The German Body collective. pg 38
As part of a bigger picture, we have a moral obligation to teach all of the story, even the ugly parts which are not always automatically the gruesome parts. Most people think the ugly parts of Holocaust history are the concentration camps, but to me its far more sinister than that. Its about what happens to a society when the individual is no longer the most sacred expression of humanity on earth and is instead replaced with a symbolic collective body - the Volk; turning all citizens into cells of the "body" with some considered "cancerous" due to ideology, productivity, genetics, etc. and thus morally acceptable to eradicate them from the body. What happens to individuals when they chose this course of action and elect officials into office that promote and enforce laws that center on the collective good rather than the individual? What happens to a society when politics becomes violent, medicine becomes political, and education becomes indoctrination? Sadly, we don't have to wonder too much. Far too many of the actions being taken since March 2020 and the beginning of the COVID crisis fit into these questions. As Holocaust educators we have a responsibility to see beyond our own personal sociopolitical ideology and understand these concerns within the bigger picture of what happened in 1933 to the most Progressive society in the world when they chose the collective over the individual. Ultimately, pledging to make Never Again a reality requires the preservation of constitutional republics as they are the only government systems that promote and protect the individual, individual rights and freedoms with absolute equality for all in the law. email us with questions or comments about this article at email@example.com Our next Un-Learning to Learn will look at American Imperialism and Yellow Journalism. Be sure to register to get all our issues in a timely manner. www.zachorshoah.org pg 39
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Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
Yom Hashoah -76 Years Later It is hard to believe that 76 years have passed since Auschwitz was liberated, World War II ended and the world was made aware of just what the fighting was about. 2020 saw many survivors pass away as they lived full lives well into their 90s. It also saw people around the world commemorate the day in new ways. Now, in 2021, as the world begins to reemerge from the COVID pandemic restrictions, we ask how do we still make Yom Hashoah meaningful? How do we connect with young people as we approach the day when Yom Hashoah commemorations around the world will no longer have living witnesses remaining.
We, at Zachor Shoah, believe it is a wrong to conflate the Holocaust with other genocides and even worse to conflate it with generalized social injustices. Doing so, robs every group of their story, their unique reality, and the understanding of how each situation came into existence and its affect on the world. Sadly, far too many educators and organizations have engaged in this simplification of human events for a variety of reasons including "making the Holocaust relatable to non-Jewish students". To that I say: if you learn about the Holocaust and still need the victim to look like you, then you have missed the entire point to the study of the Holocaust. Jews have been persecuted and murdered since antiquity. Yet, students across the world do not study the various pogroms or expulsion decrees, or the destruction of the Second Temple and the expulsion from Israel, or the Inquisition and expulsion from Spain, or any other historical attempt at destruction and annihilation of the Jewish people. Why study the Holocaust then? Because the study of the Holocaust is about more than the historical tragedy that befell the Jewish people of Europe. It is about how the nonJewish communities of Europe responded to the growing threat. The lessons are not for the Jewish community, they are for humanity as a whole. The idea being that our shared humanity is what gives us value, not our shared genetics or shared nationality or religion or any other superficial connecting quality. Therefore, to teach the Holocaust via "genocide studies" that include every human tragedy from Rwanda to the Civil Rights Movement is not only disingenuous as a scholarly endeavor, but teaches students that only in finding similarities within clearly differentiated events is there any human value, i.e. if you do not look like me, pray like me, sound like me, and your suffering is not like mine, then it does not have value for me and neither do you and your suffering or your humanity. What brings us together is not our shared humanity (we both are human beings with a soul) but our shared suffering instead. This is a dangerous road to travel as it inevitably compares suffereing instead of scholarly comparisons and study of events.
How do we prevent this? How do we teach about the Holocaust without ignoring others' historical suffering but also without downplaying the severity and uniqueness of the Holocaust? That is the question every educator and Holocaust organization should be asking themselves. It is certainly not an easy task. However, we believe this is exactly why the Holocaust cannot be taught as a quick week or two lesson. The complexities of the event lie in the development of political systems and social ideologies that have nothing to do with Jews. Those same ideologies and beliefs, however, can be connected to the beliefs that drove other injustices and genocides as well. It is in those understandings that connections can and should be made, not in the victims and their victimization. Not only does this approach respect all historical events as unique in their affect on distinct groups, but connects them in a scholarly manner that allows students to actually be able to make sense of it, still value each person for simply being human, and understand how to make Never Again a reality (hint: it has nothing to do with political activism). So how do we commemorate Yom Hashoah 76 years later for young people without witnesses? We must teach them their testimonies, teach them that they become witnesses after they hear testimonies, that they help keep the victims alive by remembering them, and that the need to do so is more important in a world without living witnesses than in a world full of them. Children, in particular, like to leave their mark. They understand the concept of symbolically keeping people alive through remembrance events and activities. Schools that incorporate physical manifestations of these lessons do best by students. Examples of these can be: Holocaust Memorial Gardens like the ones Zachor Shoah helps create, Tile or other murals as well as other artistic representations. There are a number of such activities and events that can be brought to your school by Next Generations, American Friends of Yad Vashem, USC Shoah Foundation, your local Holocaust Museum, and of course by Zachor Shoah - that personalizes the experience to your particular student demographic. pg 43
Create school wide displays that are Informational Age Appropriate and Meaningful Have students design and paint murals around the school campus.
When possible, sign up for a European study trip. Zachor Shoah, among so many others, offer such trips. Be sure to choose the one that is best for your students.
Host a Holocaust Film and Round Table Discussion Night. *no popcorn, but plenty of of good discussion. Zachor Shoah can help implement any of these ideas pg 45
Install a Zachor Shoah Holocaust Memorial Butterfly Garden
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The Beauty of Diversity God is the greatest artist of all time. He created the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them. He created the seas and the skies, the trees and the flowers, the bees and the butterflies and He created every color seen and unseen. That is diversity and it is beautiful. When we deny ourselves a life rich in color we deny ourselves all that God made and thus deny ourselves communion with God.
April is Asian History Month
As more educational organizations seek to introduce and expand Critical Race Theory (a focus in how we are different), we seek to expand the understanding of how we are mostly similar. We believe that focusing on our shared experiences, beliefs, values, and goals will do more to advance justice and peace than the focus on how we wronged each other, faced different struggles, and have different races and ethnicity. The greatness of Judaism, like humanity itself, is that we come in every color imaginable, just like God's crayon box. Get to know all of us, in all our shades, and traditions. Start by reading about the long rich tradition of the Jews of India! https://asiasociety.org/jael-silliman-bringing-indias-jews-light Namaste!
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Repair the World | Yom Hasoah edition
April is Genocide Awareness Month
While Yom Hashoah has a commemoration date set by Israel which follows the Jewish Calendar and thus changes slightly every year, the "secular" or non-Jewish month of April is always Genocide Awareness Month. What can you as an educator do to teach about and commemorate genocide Awareness and Prevention Month? Here are some ideas: 10 Things You Can Do During Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month 1. Practice being an upstander: Sociologists report that people who rescued during the Holocaust often reported that altruistic actions were normal to their everyday lives. Build this habit into your life by doing something kind for someone else during the month. An act of kindness each day would be a honorable goal! 2. Check with your local school or public library to discover what genocide resources are needed in its library and provide funding for one or two books. 3. Visit Genocide Watch’s website (http://www.genocidewatch.org) to learn about Dr. Gregory Stanton’s framework for examining genocide, the “10 Stages of Genocide”, and the recommended preventative steps you can take to stop genocide early. 4. Learn more about the Rwandan Genocide. April 6 marks the 27th anniversary of the start of this event. The Kigali Memorial Center offers documentation and survivor testimony of the genocide (http://www.kigalimemorialcentre.org/) and BBC offers an excellent overview of the events of the genocide (bbc.com/news/world-africa26917419). You can also learn how the country is commemorating the genocide from this current article. 5. Learn about the Genocide Prevention Task Force by visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/genocide-prevention pg 51
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Be Aware Always - Make Never Again a Reality! pg 52
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