BY SHANA MCNALLY
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE Day is
marked twice each year. International
Holocaust Remembrance Day, in January,
commemorates the liberation of the
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and
extermination camps, and honors the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. In
April, Holocaust Remembrance Day, known
in Hebrew as Yom Hashoah, remembers and
honors the ; million Jews (two-thirds of the
European Jewish population) and ; million
others who were killed during the Holocaust.
For many, these days are a time to look
back—and to look ahead. That’s what the
core exhibit at the Holocaust Center for
Humanity in Seattle reminds students and
visitors of all ages.
“This story is my story because I am the
child of a Holocaust survivor, and because,
when I was ;, my parents and I immigrated
to the U.S.,” says Costco member Dee
Simon, executive director of the center.
“I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in
;;;;, which was neither the right time nor
the right place to be born a Jew,” says Robert
H. in a featured Holocaust survivor exhibit.
Visitors are asked to paint stones to remember one of the ;.; million children killed
during the Holocaust.
Testimonies and actions like these serve
the museum’s primary goal of educating
young people about the past, but compli-
cated contemporary themes, from bullying
at school to hate crimes, are also connected
to the Holocaust. Among the questions
explored: What lessons of the Holocaust are
meaningful today? Are you complicit if you
don’t step in? Can you recognize the warn-
ing signs? Can we prevent these atrocities
from happening again?
“Stand up. Stand tall. Be kind,” reads a
wall filled with messages from students.
“We teach students to be upstanders,
to speak out and find their voice,” says
Simon. “We inspire critical thinking and
active citizenship. We believe that educa-
tion is the long game, and through educa-
tion, we can change the world.”
Visitors are taken from prewar Europe,
through the Holocaust, to liberation using
powerful images and artifacts (a yellow star,
a child’s shoe from Auschwitz), donated by
survivors who settled in the Seattle area.
The Holocaust Center for Humanity
was started in ;;;; by a group of Holocaust
survivors who had learned about Holocaust
deniers and knew it was their obligation to
tell their stories. The ;,;;;-square-foot
museum opened in October ;;;;.
The Holocaust Center for Humanity
hosts ;;,;;; annual visitors, but its reach
extends beyond the museum’s walls: ;;,;;;
students a year listen to survivor accounts
in classrooms, community centers, etc.;
;;,;;; online visitors view survivor testi-
monies and conduct research on the center’s
website ( HolocaustCenterSeattle.org);
;,;;; teachers get free resources and sup-
port; ;,;;; students from ;;; schools
throughout the Northwest learn lessons of
tolerance using the center’s teaching trunks,
which are free for teachers in Washington,
Oregon and Idaho to borrow for four weeks,
and include books, posters, maps, DVDs,
activities and more—all targeted to a
specific grade level—and the list goes on.
“Students leave here changed,” says
Karen Chachkes, the Holocaust Center for
Humanity’s strategic director. “They under-
stand what it takes to make the world a
better place, and they have the curiosity and
ideas to do it. Engagement matters.” C
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to view immigrants sharing
their stories. (See page 9 for details.)
BACK TO SCHOOL
to lessons of
ONE WALL AT the Holocaust Center for
Humanity in Seattle features stirring images
from the more than 800 entries in its
annual Writing, Art and Film Contest.
“The student Writing, Art and Film
Contest shows that students get it—that
Holocaust education inspires tolerance and
citizenship and encourages students to
think for themselves,” says Ilana Cone
Kennedy, director of education at the center.
Students in grades 6 to 12 from the
greater Pacific Northwest respond to an
assigned quote through writing, art or a
three-minute film. Group and class projects
are also welcome.
In addition to creativity and thoughtful-ness, judges look for students who relate
their knowledge and studies of the
Holocaust to their personal lives.
“Anne Frank’s chestnut tree inspires
everyone who is oppressed because it
reminds them that the world will always
improve and that it is not human nature for
terrible things to last forever,” wrote middle
school student Aava S., whose 2016 first-place essay was about Anne Frank.
“In record numbers, students are
entering the contest because they want to
help shape a better tomorrow—and this is
a start,” Cone Kennedy says.
This year’s quote is from Holocaust
survivor and author Elie Wiesel: “There may
be times when we are powerless to prevent
injustice, but there must never be a time
when we fail to protest.”—SM