Monday, April 19, 2004

Ceremony part of effort to raise Holocaust awareness

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

KENWOOD - In the hushed gym of Yavneh Day School, about 500 people watched as 10 first-graders dressed in black and white marched up to the stage to sing.

Many in the crowd smiled as the little school choir belted out "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem.

It was the lightest moment in a solemn memorial service on Yom HaShoah, a day of Holocaust remembrance, but an extremely important one, some say.

"We need to ensure future generations will not be ignorant" of past atrocities, said Gila Safran Naveh, a professor of Judaic studies at the University of Cincinnati.

The children were part of a ceremony that also featured part of a play about the anguish of Jews in the Vilna ghetto who resisted the Nazis, and discussion of a Holocaust museum firebombing last November in Terre Haute, Ind.

"This time it was the Jews. Who's it going to be next time?" Naveh asked. "We have to come together."

That's part of the mission of this year's Holocaust Awareness Weeks, which feature exhibits, lectures, films and concerts April 15-June 15 on the theme of "Facing prejudice."

Former city councilman Paul Booth is the first African-American co-chairman of the fourth annual Holocaust Awareness Weeks.

"It fits in with our commitment to human rights for all," Booth said after the ceremony. "It's the job of every American to work against prejudice and discrimination."

Racelle Weiman, director of the Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, agreed, saying neo-Nazi groups often target African-American, Jewish and gay communities as a group.

"We understand each other, what it's like to be a victim," she said.

For more information on Holocaust Awareness Weeks events, call (513) 221-1875.

More events

A sampling of Holocaust Awareness Weeks events:

• Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., lecture, "Can Auschwitz Speak to Us Today?" Mayerson Hall Auditorium, 3101 Clifton Ave.

• Wednesday, 11 a.m., reception and lecture, "From Prejudice to Genocide," University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

• Friday, 3:30 p.m., youth presentation, Hebrew Union College; reservations required for groups.

• June 6, "Forbidden Sights and Sounds: Nazi Suppression of Art and Culture," multimedia performance, Cincinnati Art Museum.



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