Holocaust education, not a child's game
Written by Rotem Hochman
The overfilled lecture theatre was captivated by Tibi's story of survival. A hundred people gave him their full, undivided attention. While some came to listen to Sabina in 2011, for many it was their first encounter with a Holocaust survivor on campus. Tibi gave an extremely personal account of the Holocaust. His lecture, the main event in AUJS’s Holocaust Awareness Week (HAW) on campus had to be extended for staff and students to ask questions. Most of the questions that followed were profound and sympathetic.
Tibi skilfully related his experience of the Holocaust to the importance of a Jewish state in Israel. This proved vital given that some anti-Zionists were sitting in the crowd to keep AUJS in check. Tibi answered their question with confidence leaving them in remorseful silence.
Overall, HAW (April 30th – May 4th) reached more than a thousand students with the message ‘Never Forget, Never Again’. There is still huge potential for growth and AUJS must continue working hard to provide quality exposure and education on campus. But what do we learn from this success?
First, we learn that Holocaust education is no child’s game. Holocaust education does not stop at high school and there are people out there who are truly interested in learning about it.
Second, we learn that young adult Holocaust education is critical. Many young adults are ignorant about the Holocaust, Judaism and Zionism. Ignorance can lead to stereotyping, prejudice, and racism. The only way to stop this is through education and engagement.
The next step is to gain formal university co-operation. With the University of Auckland on board ‘Never Forget, Never Again’ could reach thousands more.
The next step is to obtain more than one speaker every year. Experts on the field and other survivors could be brought on campus during HAW and also at other times.
The next step is to implement this campaign nationally on other campuses. AUJS is capable of hosting the next Holocaust outreach project on at least three campuses – University of Auckland, Victoria University and the University of Otago.
The author is the AUJS New Zealand President.