Museum Builds a Community of Defenders
By Jean Cavender and Myrna Meyer
Special to the Jewish Light
Our Holocaust Museum philosophy is rooted in the mission statement written when it opened in 1995:
“The Holocaust Museum and Learning Center teaches the history and lessons of the Holocaust, inspiring all people to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide.”
The visionaries who wrote these words set high standards and each day we strive to achieve them – one visitor at a time.
From its inception the plans always called for this to be much more than a museum. It would also be a true center of learning. The Holocaust Museum was estabished to commemorate the tragic loss of life and potential and the Learning Center was established to teach the lessons about the dangers of indifference that resonate from Holocaust history through today.
By exploring the roots of religious, ethnic and racial hatred we know that intolerance is passed on from generation to generation. If such intolerance can be learned, it is important to understand that human beings can be presented with information to broaden their perspective to counter previously held beliefs.
During the 1930s and 1940s there was no cohesive community to defend the Jews or any other group whose rights and humanity were being violated. When sharing their stories, Holocaust survivors often implore those in the audience to not only remember but to act.
Our work at the Learning Center focuses on building a community of defenders. Even in the face of this world’s history of genocidal injustices perpetrated in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and most recently Darfur; we cannot lose hope that the next generation will hear, understand, feel compassion, and take action to end such tragedies.