• Change the World

    The ever-growing incidents of anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic have had many looking over their shoulders in recent months, but the devastating Pittsburgh synagogue massacre that left eleven people brutally slaughtered has evoked images of Nazi Germany like never before. Seeing innocent people murdered in cold blood in their place of worship simply because they were Jews is a horrific reminder that we cannot let the Holocaust be forgotten and that it is crucial to teach the younger generation about racial tolerance while empowering them to change the world by promoting harmony and positivity. An all-new star-studded music video shot in Warsaw with footage of the POLIN Museum of Jewish History aims to bring that message home, showing that educating our children is the key to acceptance, the first step towards eradicating hatred and racial bias.

    Featuring the legendary Dudu Fisher, the son of a Holocaust survivor, Israeli superstar Gad Elbaz, Saul Dreier of the Holocaust Survivor Band and more than 80 Polish children of all religions, Change the World offers a much-needed message of hope at a time when so many are still grieving the Pittsburgh bloodbath that has left the world reeling. “In a world that so often is filled with darkness, we need to find the light that gives our world its beauty and its purpose,” said Margules. “It is the purity and innocence of the children that will guide us in that direction, helping us to change the world so that peace and brotherhood can reign supreme once again.” Banishing the chaos and animosity that breed anti-Semitism is crucial, explained Cecelia Margules, who wrote both the music and the lyrics for Change the World, in addition to serving as the video’s executive producer along with Arie Taykan and Sylvia Kahana. “We are living in a world filled with political rhetoric, hate, and antagonism, all created by adults and the time has come to say enough,” said Daniel Finkelman, producer, and director of Change the World. “The time has come to for us to start a new chapter, so that our children can live in a new world, one that is filled with acceptance and tolerance.” Dreier, a Holocaust survivor who was whipped with a belt by infamous SS commander Amon Goeth, celebrated his 94th birthday while filming in Warsaw. Sharing the occasion with friends and a group of children on Polish soil was an uplifting and emotional experience, one that demonstrated that positive relationships and tolerance can be a reality. Those sentiments come alive in Change the World, which was co-directed by Aharon Orian, with line production and concept written by Chaya Greenberg. “Why did I go back to Poland?” mused Dreier. “Because I believe in the children. And I believe that they are the key to ending anti-Semitism and making sure that what happened in my childhood should never happen again.”

  • Book Review: Dirty Jewess’: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom

    Dirty Jewess: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom by Sylvia Fishbaum

    In expectation of Sylvia Fishbaum’s appearance at the HMTC  in the Spring of 2019, here is a glimpse of what its author endured during her journey to religious and political freedom as described in her memoir: Dirty Jewess’: A Woman’s Courageous Journey to Religious and Political Freedom.

    While the Russians used all their strength and resolve to conquer the Third Reich’s forces, one by one the countries they reclaimed, the concentration camps and the local populace they freed, and the Resistance who joined them, paid a terrible price. They were not returned to their former freedom, but had become subjects of the USSR.  From now on, it would be the USSR that dictated to them who they were and what they were  allowed to do.  Despite being freed from the Germans, the recaptured countries were places from which one strove to escape, and Sylvia Fishbaum, eventually did.

    Picture this:

    It is Czechoslovakia.  The war is long over.  It is now 1961, but the same fury that fed Russia the strength to fight the Nazis, has now been marshaled against the citizens it freed.  They are living in a cage of rules and regulations, and the author of this book can no longer stand it.  She has about her: parents who had been freed from Hitler’s camps by Stalin’s soldiers; two lovely sisters born since who have accommodated to the strictures of the regime, each in their own way; a few close friends, none of whom are Jewish  but who are however, loyal to her, as she courageously strives to make her way out of the steel grip of Communism and the local antisemitism.  After a stay in Italy, and with the help of HIAS, she finally reaches New York City, a new love and a new life.

    There is also a side story of her art teacher, the compassionate dwarf, Ludovit Feld whose talent and humanity the HMTC has already acclaimed in a previous exhibit, and who is particularly precious to the author who plans to honor him in the near future.  I expect we will all want to make this book our own and look forward to meeting its warm hearted, brave, lovely author, who is to make a personal presentation at HMTC in the Spring of 2019.  I know that I do.

    Review by Marcia Posner, the Louis Posner Memorial Library/HMTC of Nassau County

  • A Word from HMTC’s Chairman

  • Photos from the 10th Annual Golf and Games Outing

    Chairman of the Board Steven Markowitz with our honorees Andrea and John Stark

    Golfers ready to play on the course.

    Golfers getting ready to head out onto the course.

    Games player enjoying Canasta, Bridge, and Mah Jongg

  • HMTC’s 10th Annual Golf and Games Outing

     Join us Monday, August 6 for HMTC’s 10th Annual Golf and Games Outing!

    Come to a new location at Fresh Meadow Country Club for a fun day of golf, games, shopping, and more.  Spots are filling up fast and the day is rapidly approaching!  For more details about packages and prices or to register online visit www.hmtcli.org/golf or contact Deborah Lom at (516) 571-8040 or dlom@hmtcli.org.

  • Steven Markowitz Elected to Fourth Term as Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County

    Glen Cove, NY… Steven Markowitz, of Great Neck, NY, has been re-elected to a fourth term as Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC).

    Under Mr. Markowitz’s leadership HMTC has opened the state-of-the-art Claire Friedlander Education Institute, embarked on a restoration of the Children’s Memorial Garden which will feature an outdoor amphitheater, and will oversee the installation of interactives and other technology in HMTC’s world-class museum. In the 2017-2018 school year, while Mr. Markowitz has been chairman, over 14,700 students from across Long Island, the metro-New York region, the United States and the world, visited HMTC for educational programming or took part in a video-conference with a Survivor.  HMTC has also expanded programming with the Nassau and Suffolk County police departments, and nursing students from area colleges and universities.

    In addition to his role as Chairman of HMTC, Mr. Markowitz is founder and past chairman of MultiState Associated Inc., one of the largest lobbying companies in the United States. Active in community, religious and political affairs since he moved to Great Neck with his family in 1975, he is one of the longest serving members of the Great Neck Student Aid Fund, served for many years on the Executive Committee of the Board of the Gold Coast Arts Center and is a long time member of the Board of Zoning Appeals of the Village of Great Neck. A member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Israel of Great Neck for 30 years, Mr. Markowitz is also a past Temple president. He has been the local Democratic Party leader for many years and is President of the Great Neck Democratic Club and a Vice Chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee.

    For the past fifteen years the major focus of Steve’s community activities has been HMTC.  Founded over twenty five years ago by a small group of Holocaust survivors, the Center has grown to become the pre-eminent Long Island resource for the teaching of the history and lessons of the Holocaust.  Located in Glen Cove, the Center includes a world class museum and library on the Holocaust, and an education institute where thousands of young people and adults learn both the history of one of the darkest periods of human existence and how it relates to the conduct of their lives today.

    After serving on the Board of the Center for a number of years, Steve became a Vice Chairman and in 2012 he was elected as the third Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center.  On June 13, 2018 he was elected to his fourth term as Center Chairman.  Though it’s a volunteer position, it is a full time job overseeing the important work undertaken by the staff of the Center and hundreds of volunteers, as well as raising the money to fund its operations.

    Steve and Trudy still live in the same home into which they moved in 1975 and are grateful to have their daughters, sons-in-law, and, most importantly, their four grandchildren, relatively close by.

    For more information about HMTC, call (516) 571-8040, visit www.hmtcli.org, or find the Center on social media at Facebook.com/HMTCNY and Twitter.com/HolocaustTolCtr.

  • Butterfly Release at HMTC

     

    Sixth graders from Lynbrook North Middle School visited HMTC and enjoyed a tour of the museum.  Following the tour they release butterflied in the garden in remembrance of the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust.  The students were also given the opportunity to share poetry they had written in response to learning about the Holocaust in school.

  • Washington’s Promise to Minorities and its Meaning for our Center

     

    Washington’s Promise to Minorities and its Meaning for our Center

    by Frank Miller-Small

    It’s now no more that tolerance is spoken of as it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights…

    … the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance…

    Every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be no one to make him afraid.

    — excerpted from George Washington’s letter to
    the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 1790

    Our country’s rising tide of intolerance toward minorities caused me to wonder about our founders’ values and, if knowing that, might help our Center foster greater tolerance.  I wanted to know if, as some claim, we were intended to be a white Christian nation, relegating minorities to an inferior status.  Or, did our founders envision an egalitarian, multi-cultural America, with different groups living in harmony with each other?  Were Americans, perhaps, of mixed opinions on this issue? My search for answers led me to an insightful collection of essays entitled, “Washington’s Rebuke to Bigotry.”

    This book, written mostly by well- credentialed scholars, educators, and legal experts, explores the significance of our first president’s important, yet relatively little known, 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. It further examines subsequent American responses to the intent of the letter.   To better comprehend the letter’s meaning at the time, the volume begins by providing an historical perspective, which I’ll briefly summarize below.

    At the letter’s writing, Rhode Island, founded by Puritan dissident Roger Williams in the mid-17th century, had long granted religious freedom to minorities, much to the disdain of the other colonies.  Concerned that its rights would be trampled upon, Rhode Island delayed ratifying statehood until the Bill of Rights (1791) promised religious liberty.

    Washington celebrated the new country’s unity by visiting Newport, and, while there, several religious groups gave welcoming speeches, the most memorable by Moses Seixas, president of the Hebrew Congregation. Several days later, Washington penned his famous letter, responding to the Jewish hope that America would treat them with greater tolerance than had been their long experience. Washington’s letter, highlights of which are quoted above, assured the Jews that all minorities would have equal freedom of religion under the law.  Moreover, the government, in our current idiom, would provide protection from “hate crimes” and other forms of prejudice. These promises, from a head of a national government, were revolutionary, unprecedented in the Western World.

    However, they didn’t arise in a vacuum. The amazing success of Rhode Island’s religious freedom experiment provided the main inspiration and model.  Enlightenment ideas and the ideals and recent victories of Madison and Jefferson to wean Virginia away from a state-supported Anglican Church also lent support.

    The intention of the letter and the way it was interpreted went well beyond promising religious freedom to the Jews.  Widely circulated, read and discussed, it gave hope of toleration to all minorities.  More than merely a legal doctrine, this letter presented a vision of a moral, idealistic, harmonious national community.

    Although embraced by minorities, many intellectuals, some leaders, and other sympathizers, the struggle for the fulfillment of this vision had just begun.  Several states continued to use tax support to promote the Christian religion.  Many states had religious tests for public office.  Remarkably, the main reason for eventual Church-State separation derived from the plethora of competing Protestant sects, each fearing the other’s government control, and the last government established Church persisted until 1833, in Massachusetts.  It took several more decades to attain full legal toleration of all religions at the state level.

    America’s initial ambivalence toward minorities, shown by the disparity between the letter’s lofty ideals and the states’ stubborn opposition to them, set the stage for subsequent ambivalent development.  This ambivalence began even with the founders’ original vision which contained some striking contradictions. Washington’s statements and the year-later Bill of Rights didn’t mention the rights of women, ethnic or racial minorities, or slaves.  Moreover, the negative ramifications of this ambivalence played out throughout most of US history, where Jews and other minorities were, at best, merely tolerated by the White Protestant majority.

    This conflict between ideals and realities exposes one of the central American moral paradoxes.  Although there has been and continues to be tremendous discrimination toward many minority groups, this co-exists with the ever-present and potent promise of an inclusive America.  This promise has roused the voices of toleration for many compassionate documents  and court decisions as well as fueled minority rights struggles by individuals and groups, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Marriage Equality Act.

    Armed with the knowledge of the paradoxical nature of Washington’s original vision and its aftermath, we can use this to help our Center broaden the circle of tolerance. We can use Washington’s promise as a springboard to conversations about our present state of minority rights.  We can hold up the examples of the choices American upstanders, such as George Washington and Martin Luther King, made to promote greater minority inclusion as courageous role models. We can employ the circumstances surrounding upstander and opposition choices to initiate and work through difficult and complex conversations about inclusion.

    We can relate these difficult conversations to the important idea, implied in Washington’s letter, that democracy can only work if people cooperate, and this can only happen if people feel free from prejudicial fear. Ideally, as John Dewey said, schools should be the training ground for democracy, the place where young people learn peaceful, cooperative living and its connection to the democratic process.  Unfortunately, many schools don’t have the time, interest, or capability to do this.

    Our Center fills this important void.  We make the democratic connection and provide the unique opportunity to have the aforementioned difficult conversations, helping students recognize and resolve differences by working through them in a civil way.  During this process, as Adam Strom, Facing History educator says, we help them “… separate fact from rumor by breaking own stereotypes and countering myth and misinformation.”  This is what our Center does so well and one reason why our Center is so much needed, particularly, in these troubled times.

    If we can integrate the lessons borne of the American struggle toward inclusion with the lessons of tolerance learned from the Holocaust, this dual focus will brighten our torch to illuminate the dark places in our midst.

    To charge our energies for this challenge, we can summon the words of African –American poet, Langston Hughes, to resound in our ears:

    O, yes I say it plain

    America never was America to me,

    And yet I swear this oath –

    America will be!

    May his faith be ours, and may it inspire us, as we go back to the trenches, to carry forth the spirit of Washington’s letter, despite the strong headwinds, and continue our vital work.

     

     

  • Tribute Dinner Honoree Profile: Stuart Narofsky

    Architect Stuart Narofsky, will be honored with the Public Service Award at HMTC’s 25th Annual Tribute Dinner on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation in Old Westbury, NY.

    Stuart Narofsky, FAIA, is the principal of Narofsky Architecture, a multi-discipline design firm founded in 1983. Stuart is the recipient of the AIA Long Island “Lifetime Achievement Award.” The Center is deeply indebted to Stuart for all of the time and effort he has donated to the project to restore and enhance our Children’s Memorial Garden. His projects are highly recognized through design awards, national and international publications, videos and exhibitions. Dedicated to pro bono service in South America, Stuart has lectured and overseen workshops at various universities in Bolivia and Argentina. He is a past president of AIA Long Island and is currently vice chair of AIA National’s Custom Residential Architects Network.

    Other honorees at this year’s Tribute Dinner are Ricky and Rabbi Myron Fenster will will be receiving the Legacy Award; and Renee Katz and Sheila Rind who will be co-recipients of the Bruce Morrell Education Award. The Consul General of Israel, Ambassador Dani Dayan, will be the keynote speaker. In addition, 3D pop artist Charles Fazzino will unveil “After the Darkness,” which he created exclusively for HMTC.

    To purchase tickets, visit HMTC’s website or contact Deborah Lom at (516) 571-8040 or dlom@hmtcli.org.

  • Adolescent Advocates: Making Change Happen

    The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC), supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundations, as part of the Communities Against Hate initiative, is pleased to announce Adolescent Advocates, a new and unique program to train and empower teens to combat the rise of hate crimes on Long Island.

    HMTC is looking for Adolescent Advocates in grades 7-11 who are committed to bringing change to their communities and adult mentors, such as educators or youth group leaders, who are currently working with young adults to learn how to conduct trainings and be ongoing advisors. After going through the Adolescent Advocate training session, students/youth/graduates will have the tools they need to be effective advocates for themselves and their peers. They will then be able to enact tolerance action plans in their communities, with support from their trained partner adult mentors.

    Training sessions for Adolescent Advocates will take place on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Boys and Girls Club, 471 Atlantic Avenue, Bellport NY; and on Sunday, October 22, 2017 at HMTC, Welwyn Preserve, 100 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY. Mandatory Training for adult mentors will take place Thursday, August 17, 2017, at HMTC.

    Teens and adults interested in participating in Adolescent Advocates must fill out an online application, which can be found on HMTC’s website at hmtcli.org/advocates. Space is limited. Mentor applications are due by June 30, 2017. Student applications will be accepted through September 1, 2017.

    HMTC was prompted to create this program by the rise in racist, anti-immigrant and antisemitic incidents since Election Day, 2016. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that 40% of all incidents occur in educational settings. HMTC is committed to empowering students with the tools they need to not only react to incidents of prejudice but to be proactive in preventing those incidents in their schools and communities.

    Communities Against Hate is a national initiative to collect data and respond to incidents of violence, threats, and property damage motivated by hate across the United States. The initiative leverages a reporting database (www.CommunitiesAgainstHate.org) that aggregates reports from both victims, witnesses and news accounts of hate incidents, as well as offers legal resources and social services to support people in need. Communities Against Hate aims to aggregate data on hate incidents, providing legal and social support, raising awareness, and educating the public on the prevalence of hate.

    The initiative is led by The Leadership Conference Education Fund, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and partner organizations representing diverse communities that reflect the fabric of America, including: Center for Community Change; Color of Change; Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network); Hollaback!; Muslim Advocates; National Council of La Raza; National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC); New York City Anti-Violence Project; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; The Sikh Coalition; National Disability Rights Network; South Asian Americans (SAALT) and the Transgender Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center is serving as a strategic advisor to the initiative.

    For more information about how to apply to be a part of the Adolescent Advocates program contact Helen Turner, Adolescent Advocates Program Manager, at (516) 571-8040 or helenturner@hmtcli.org, or visit hmtli.org.