January 27, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The significance of this year’s commemoration cannot be overstated. The remembrance was marked by the diminished number of survivors.
It is a fact that within the next several years, survivors will no longer be present to bear witness to the horrors that occurred during World War II. Nor will the military personnel or righteous among nations be able to tell the story in the first person. As we remember this anniversary, Holocaust denial is rampant, and even basic knowledge of what had occurred is near absent in the general population. The world has been stunned by dramatic increases in overt anti-Semitism and racism, including violent attacks with deadly consequences. In some communities, instead of remorse or concern, we see victim blaming. These incidents are not limited to obscure locales or strange lands. They are occurring in our own backyards, where Jews have long been integrated into highly diverse communities.
The need to strengthen our resolve and our efforts to educate has never been more important than in 2020.
What can we do to both stem the tide of anti-Semitism and prevent the memory of the Holocaust from fading into the history books? What can we do locally to provide the opportunities for future generations to bear witness? How can we strengthen Holocaust education to reverse the current tide and to continue the vigil against the horror of brutal extermination? The Jewish community of the Capital District is answering these questions by building a Holocaust Memorial in the heart of the Capital District.
The Capital District Holocaust Memorial to be built in Niskayuna is meant to be a landmark to remember, to pay tribute to the fallen and the righteous, and to educate future generations about the Holocaust. Many people who have visited Auschwitz or Dachau or other memorial sites in Europe report they are changed by the experience. However, most Americans will never have the opportunity to travel to those sites or even visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.
Having a local educational memorial will give the Capital District residents the opportunity to bear witness, spark the desire to learn more, and to resolve to stand up and never let hatred take root as it did in the 1930s and ’40s. A physical site and experience combined with other educational support can, and will, have a similar type of impact on visitors, as do European memorials. The physical and tangible nature of the memorial will help connect visitors to the past. Schools will be invited to make memorial trips part of their Holocaust education. This memorial will make sure that survivor stories are carried forward, so that we can heed their warning about what can happen when we dehumanize each other.
This project has unified Capital District residents of many faiths, as Jewish and non-Jewish people have come together in the effort to build a tribute to those that perished and to provide the necessary educational resources to make the words ‘Never Forget, Never Again’ more meaningful to the local community.
It is our obligation to the six million who perished to assure they are not forgotten and history does not repeat itself. We cannot build this memorial without financial support. Without financial support this memorial will remain a dream.
Donations may be sent to The Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial, LLC.
P.O. Box 9410, Niskayuna, NY 12309. Information about the memorial may be obtained by e- mailing Info@cdjhm.org Jean Buzz Rosenthal.
Jean Buzz Rosenthal
Chairman, Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial, LLC