Judaism. Christianity. Islam. Central to all three Abrahamic faiths is love, especially others. From the book of Exodus: V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, And you shall love the stranger as yourself.
Congregants of all three faiths have recently been the victims of deadly hate attacks in what was supposed to be their sanctuary. A place of faith, of safety, of love.
Love comes naturally. It is what we are born with. The same can be said of altruism. Hate is something learned. And hate has been on the rise, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti Defamation League, and Simon Wiesenthal Center.
An insightful article from PBS Frontline explores how to teach about the evils of anti-Semitism in schools through Holocaust education. Moreover, Holocaust education is about fighting hate directed against all groups.
That piece depicts a project in which saplings from a chestnut tree have been planted at important locations throughout the U.S. And this was not just any tree. The chestnut in question was the one Anne Frank described in her diary as she peered out the window from her place of hiding. “From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine,” wrote Anne Frank. “As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances might be.”
With Anti-Semitic Incidents in Schools on the Rise, Teachers Grapple With Holocaust Education
At a time when there are increasingly fewer Holocaust survivors and witnesses, the last year has seen a surge in anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and bigotry (such as White Nationalism) on the rise. Of even greater concern, these forms of bias and hate are moving from the fringes to the mainstream. The Washington Post recently called on Congress to take action. These worrisome trends have had at least two Holocaust museums re-examine how they present their collections. The first involves a young girl, a name world famous but a history often misunderstood. The second commemorates the ghetto uprising in Korczak’s home of Warsaw.
The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Although attendance at this Amsterdam landmark has increased sharply over the past seven years, the curators have noticed that many of the younger and foreign visitors have a limited knowledge of the Holocaust and Anne Frank. The challenge, according to and article in the New York Times, is how to make this history relevant to today without trivializing it. The museum has expanded both its exhibition space in an building adjoining the old house and its educational outreach efforts, especially to enable these audiences to experience the what happened in the house. The museum also has traveling exhibitions, such as the new “Let Me Be Myself.” Anne Frank has long been a metaphor for hope and the belief in the inherent goodness of people even in the worst of circumstances.
Lohamei Hagetaot – Ghetto Fighters House Museum, Israel
In another recent New York Times article, the Ghetto Fighters House Museum, which commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and honors notable people of the city during the Holocaust, including Janusz Korczak. Yad Layeled commemorates the children. According to the article, “…instead of dealing with the Holocaust as a static historical event, and only a Jewish tragedy, the museum is advocating a more dynamic approach with a focus on the moral lessons for all of humanity.”