January 27th is Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Anti-semitism is a problem that has plagued humanity for centuries. While it may seem to have weakened, it is still very much alive and gaining strength.
South Florida, and Miami in particular, has one of the largest Jewish communities in the country.
Even still, this community is too often threatened by anti-semitic acts. A few days ago, I read an article about swastikas being spray painted at a playground with a prominent Jewish population.
Not only have anti-semitic activities been on the rise in recent years all over the world, but even worse is when public figures become part of the problem and share anti-semitic rhetoric on their platforms with the ability to influence large groups of people.
The Holocaust started because of one man’s evil ideas.
But what gave Adolf Hitler his power was not just the spread of those ideas; it was also provided by those who knew it was wrong–and could have changed things–but stayed quiet. That indifference was as much part of the problem as his followers.
In fourth grade, my children’s school had Holocaust survivors come for a visit. After sharing her experience, she spoke to the kids about the importance of speaking up if they are bullied or see someone else being bullied. Why did she talk to them about this? She explained to them that hate isn’t the only danger; the danger also lies in being indifferent.
Days like this one help to remind us of how important it is to teach newer generations about what happens when hatred and indifference take over.
And sadly, it isn’t the only example. It isn’t even the most recent example, not even close. As we all know it’s not just antisemitism either.
It reminds us of the vital part we play as role models and in teaching acceptance, empathy, compassion, and kindness. No matter what a person looks like, where they come from, or their beliefs, they should be treated with kindness and respect.
As parents, we teach them to speak up if someone is being treated poorly. Whether it means standing up for themselves or a peer or going to an adult to help, they should never be bystanders to injustice.
But it continues beyond teaching the next generation how to apply these values; we must also emulate them.
Even if we feel we are only one person, we must remember we can make a difference. Any good we can put into the world means there is that much less hate. Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel once said, “Action is the only remedy to indifference.”
Let’s take action!
Talk about the Holocaust, go to the Holocaust Memorial (here in Miami or anywhere), read the books written by survivors, or post about the Holocaust on social media. All of it makes a difference.
I know many moms here have very young children and may feel it’s too early to teach their children about the Holocaust. However, there are things we can do at every age to teach kids about acceptance and kindness, and that is how we start.
Below I have compiled a list of some books and other resources that can help with Holocaust education in our homes. There are many others. Read, discuss, and share. May we never forget and continue to educate future generations, so it never happens again.
Kindness books for kids
I am Anne Frank (Ordinary People Change the World) (ages 6-9)
Anne Frank: A Kid’s Book About Hope (Mini Movers and Shakers) (ages baby- 12)
Who was Anne Frank? (ages 8-10)
Number the Stars (ages 9-11)
Night (ages 13+)
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (ages 13+)