Category Archives: Holocaust Awareness

Our City’s Collective Responsibility


This week: a message from JCRC's Emily Reichman, Director of Service Initiatives (R), and Shira Burns, JCRC Communications Staff.

On Monday, in an auditorium full of high school students visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust survivor Esther Starobin asked: “Is there anything specific you’re hoping to see here today?” Sherley Maximin’s hand shot up.

Sherley is this year’s first place winner of JCRC’s annual Israel Arbiter Essay Contest for high school students, and one of over 200 who submitted essays on themes related to the Holocaust. This Monday, she and three other student winners from schools across Greater Boston joined JCRC to spend the day at the museum in Washington, D.C.

In her essay, Sherley, who moved to Boston from Haiti two years ago, reflected on the life-changing encounter she had with local Holocaust survivors during a visit to the New England Holocaust Memorial last summer after it was vandalized by a student from her school. The students came together to let the Jewish community of Boston know that this student from their school did not represent them:

“That experience went beyond all the things that I could ever read in textbooks. I had such a meaningful conversation with Dr. Ornstein, a survivor. Nothing is comparable to listening to a survivor share their experience. I realized that there is much more to pay attention to. Way too often, we forget the causes of historical events like the Holocaust and I think we must commit to point to the signs when they arise. The lessons that one can learn from the history of the Holocaust are endless. This experience definitely strengthened my desire to learn more.”

Sherely (L) and a fellow Malden High School student at the NEHM.

This past week, days before Sherley’s visit to Washington, we marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. “The Night of Broken Glass” ushered in a time of unparalleled hatred and devastation that led to the loss of six million Jewish lives.

In 1938, we were isolated and alone. Today, the strength of our community is demonstrated through our relationships and our alliances, and through our neighbors’ determined refusal to remain silent in the face of hatred and bigotry.

And in Boston this Tuesday, under a heavy downpour, we gathered at the New England Holocaust Memorial (NEHM) to acknowledge a significant gift made to the Memorial by the Glaziers Union, part of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 35. The Glaziers have been involved in the Memorial from the beginning, building and installing the original Memorial in 1995, made up of six iconic glass towers with 132 glass panels.

After the Memorial was vandalized last year, the union felt compelled to stand with the Jewish community and to uphold the integrity of this space that is sacred to so many. “It is our moral obligation to stand up and to speak up,” said Wayne Murphy, Director of Government and Public Affairs for the union. In his remarks, Murphy also noted that his union responded to last year’s vandalism by stepping in to repair the damage, offering to perform the work pro bono.

We were also joined by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been steadfast in his commitment to the Jewish community, showing up at event after event as we find ourselves under assault. He reflected on the “acts of anti-Semitism happening all over our country,” including the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre of October 27, in which 11 Jewish worshippers were murdered.

At JCRC we don’t take those relationships and alliances, nor the lessons of the Holocaust, for granted. That is why we provide education and engagement, connected with the Memorial, in Boston’s broader civic space beyond the Jewish community.

Displayed on the wall of the United States Holocaust Museum is a quote from Elie Wiesel’s remarks at the Dedication Ceremonies for the Museum on April 22, 1993: “This museum is not an answer. It is a question.” The museum, and the Holocaust itself, is not finite, but rather a living, breathing history that informs our collective responsibility. An enduring communal memory of the Holocaust is crucial.

And what was Sherley Maximin’s answer to that question on Monday about her hopes for the day?

“I’m hoping to see aspects of the exhibit that inspire me to recommit to resilience and hope.”

We hope that we met Sherley’s hopes this week. And her hopes were met for us as well – when we saw Sherley and her high school community, and the Glaziers Union, stand up in the face of acts of hatred this past year. Their actions, and the actions of so many others, remind us of what is good in our city. They inspire us to recommit, with resilience and hope, to ensuring that future generations of Bostonians will do so for years to come.

Shabbat Shalom,

Emily & Shira

JCRC of Greater Boston to Present Community Holocaust Commemoration of Yom HaShoah

David Eisenhower, Historian and Grandson of President Dwight Eisenhower, Will Deliver Keynote

(BOSTON) – To honor local survivors of the Holocaust and to pay tribute to those who perished, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and its partners will present LIBERATION: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, a community commemoration of Yom HaShoah, on Sunday, April 12th, 10:30 A.M. at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the New England Holocaust Memorial and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

The keynote speaker, David Eisenhower, is a noted historian and the Director of the Institute for Public Service at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. He is the grandson of U.S. General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“David Eisenhower is not only a renowned scholar of the historical era encompassing the liberation, but is also a direct descendant of a person whose life and legacy is so interwoven with the fate of the Jewish people,” said Rick Mann, Co-Chair of this year’s event . “His appearance is a gift of immeasurable value to our entire community and particularly to the aging survivors who will be in attendance.”

Max Michelson, a native of Riga, Latvia, will speak during the ceremony of his personal story of survival during the Holocaust. He went through a number of concentration camps and was liberated in Germany in May, 1945. Mr. Michelson is also the author of City of Life, City of Death, Memories of Riga.

LIBERATION: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT is presented in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Facing History and Ourselves, and Jewish Family & Children’s Services.

JCRC Congratulates Israel Arbeiter

Local Holocaust survivor and activist to join Presidential Delegation to Poland to commemorate liberation of Auschwitz.

izzy-crop

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston wishes to congratulate Israel “Izzy” Arbeiter for being chosen by President Obama to be part of a Presidential Delegation to Oświęcim, Poland to attend the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 27, 2015.

For over 60 years, Izzy Arbeiter, an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor, has dedicated his life to commemorating and educating others about the Holocaust. He has stood up and spoken for the rights of survivors demanding that the world must remember what has happened, to understand why it has happened, and to identify the seeds from which hate grows.

Izzy is one of the founders of the New England Holocaust Memorial and a driving force behind Holocaust education in New England.

We congratulate Izzy on this high honor and look forward to joining him for the re-dedication of the Israel Arbiter Gallery of Understanding at The Gann Academy in Waltham, MA on February 1.

JCRC of Greater Boston Announces 9th Annual Holocaust Essay Contest

Open to Grades 6-12; Honors Holocaust Survivor and Activist
Israel Arbeiter

(BOSTON) - The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston has announced that entries are being accepted for the 9th annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest. Deadline for entries is February 23, 2015.

The theme for this year’s contest is Liberation: From Darkness to Light. Students in grades 6 -12 in Greater Boston are invited to write a 400–800 word essay, to be judged on originality, knowledge, style and depth.

Students are asked to reflect on the following quote from Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace laureate and holocaust survivor:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Essays should address the following: Why do you think it is important not to be silent when humans endure suffering? Do you agree or disagree with Elie Wiesel that we must always take sides in this matter? Why or why not? Discuss a time in your life when you took a side, or you wish you had taken a side, when you witnessed an injustice.

Winners will receive a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

Contest entries should be sent to Ellen Kaye at *protected email*, or mail to JCRC, 126 High St, Boston, MA 02110, along with name, address, phone number, email, birthdate, school, and grade.

The essay contest is part of JCRC’s broader Holocaust Awareness initiative, which includes a Community Holocaust Commemoration of Yom HaShoah. This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday, April 12 at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

The contest is being coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Facing History and Ourselves, the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, and many generous donors.

About Israel “Izzy” Arbeiter

Israel “Izzy” Arbeiter is a Holocaust survivor and lifelong rights activist who lost several family members including both of his parents in the Holocaust. For Izzy, the nightmares – and the struggle for justice - have continued for over 60 years. He has carried his message nationwide and internationally, raising funds for the National Holocaust Museum and the Boston Holocaust Memorial, testified against Nazi war criminals, and on behalf of victims’ families before Congressional committees. As a guest of the German Government, Izzy addressed members of Parliament and spoke at town meetings – often to Germans who had never met a Jew. His commitment to "tikkun olam" (healing the world) on many levels is legendary.

About Jewish Community Relations Council

JCRC defines and advances the values, interests and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at www.jcrcboston.org.