NBC Visits the Museum of Jewish Civilization to Mark 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

March 10, 2020

On January 27th, 2020, a group of students visited the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford as part of our HERO Center programming. Here, they met with local Holocaust survivor Ernest “Bumi” Gelb to hear his story. NBC News wanted to mark the occasion as it was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. Our own Sharone Kornman, Board member and Secretary of Voices of Hope, was also interviewed about her family’s experience during the Holocaust.

To see NBC’s coverage of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, click here!

Echoes and Reflections releases interactive map of Holocaust Education legislation

January 13, 2020

Please see the original Echoes and Reflections page and the interactive map here.

In December 2019 Echoes and Reflections, a program offering exceptional Holocaust education resources, produced an interactive map which tracks Holocaust Education legislation across the United States.

The map illustrates, state by state, the kind of legislation which exists (or does not exist), and the type of commission, committee or task force is in place to implement the legislation.

This is an important step for Holocaust Education Centers across the country as it can help connect committees, build partnerships across state borders, and assist those states hoping to pass similar legislation in their states.

Thank you to Echoes and Reflections, the ADL, USC Shoah Foundation and Yad Vashem for their work and for continually supporting educators and organizations!

Voices of Hope goes to the No Hate. No Fear. Solidarity March in NYC!

January 9, 2020

The No Hate. No Fear. Solidarity March in New York City was a tremendous success! Thank you to all who made it to the march and making your voices heard. The below photos include our Director of Programs and Development, Robin Landau, her family and Voices of Hope Board Members Lisa Fishman and Sharone Kornman.

Groundbreaking NY exhibit on Auschwitz is extended

Published in the CT Jewish Ledger. See original article here.

NEW YORK, NY – Due to an overwhelming response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust has announced that “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” described as the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America, will be extended until August 30, 2020. Produced by the international exhibition firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the groundbreaking exhibition is the largest ever on Auschwitz.

Open since May, to date more than 106,000 people from across the country and globe have come to the Museum to see the exhibition, which includes more than 700 objects and 400 photographs, mainly from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The exhibit traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as Oświęcim to the largest German Nazi concentration camp and the most significant site of the Holocaust – at which ca. one million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. 

The exhibition also features 10 artifacts on loan from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Most recently, the Museum incorporated into the exhibit a shofar that was hidden and clandestinely blown in the Auschwitz, as well as nearly 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area.

For information, including museum hours and individual ticket prices, call (646) 437-4202. For information on group sales, call (646) 437-4304 or visit groupvisits@mjhnyc.org. Admission to the exhibit is free for Holocaust survivors, active members of the military and first responders, and students and teachers through grade 12 in schools located in the tri-state area (with valid school-issued ID).

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust Is located at 36 Battery Place in New York City.

Bad Arolsen Archive Releases Millions of Holocaust Documents

This article was originally posted in the LA Times on May 21, 2019. Click here for the original article.

German Holocaust archive puts millions of documents online

Gary Mokotoff

By ERIK KIRSCHBAUMMAY 21, 2019 3:55 AMReporting from BERLIN —  

Sixteen women at the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp were forced by the SS guards to work as prostitutes for 86 other inmates on the night of Aug. 7, 1943.

Stahlheber, Zange, Rathmann, Fischer, Kolbusch and Zimmermann — the last names of some of the women — embodied a painful story long kept from the general public. They are stolen lives, listed on a single page labeled “Bordel Receipts” — part of more than 13 million Holocaust-related documents retrieved from concentration camps at the end of World War II and uploaded online Tuesday in digital form by the International Tracing Service in Germany.

The international organization, which also announced Tuesday that it is rebranding itself the Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution, hopes that by making the documents widely available to the public it will help researchers and relatives learn more about the Nazi death machine. It’s the first time the massive volume of documents has been put online. Arolsen Archives is located in the north-central town of Bad Arolsen, Germany — about 90 miles north of Frankfurt.

The “Bordel Receipts” page, which also lists the number of fellow inmates — ranging from three to nine — each woman engaged with that night, was written in English on May 4, 1945, presumably by an Allied investigator as the war ended.

The list also details how much the women collected — 2 reichsmarks per customer, or just under $1, based on prewar exchange rates — and how much of those receipts they had to turn over to the prison camp guards named Fricke, Koch and Gust: more than three-fourths of the 172 reichsmarks they took in that night.

Arolsen Archives announced it had uploaded a vast trove of original documents that includes names and other information about 2.2 million people — those deported to concentration and forced-labor camps, death reports and postwar testimonies from many survivors. It will continue uploading more of the remaining two-thirds of the documents in its collection about many more millions of people in the months and years ahead.

There are also documents relating to some whose lives and work later helped enlighten postwar generations about the unfathomable darkness of the Holocaust: German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who tried to protect Jews from being deported and is credited with saving about 1,200 lives; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel; and a young German girl named Anne Frank, who wrote “The Diary of a Young Girl,” published after she perished in the Bergen-Belsen death camp.

Run by the Red Cross after the end of World War II, the organization was long criticized for keeping extremely tight controls on the archives. The documents were recovered from Nazi death camps across Europe by Allied forces and deposited in the archives. Considerable pressure from the United States later helped force the partial opening of the records in 2007, an important milestone ahead of Tuesday’s full opening at the institution.

“These archives are the witness to the Nazi atrocities,” said Floriane Azoulay, the director of the Arolsen Archives, in a telephone interview with The Times. “It’s a very rewarding day for all those who have been fighting relentlessly for decades to have these archives opened. The survivors, their children and grandchildren who come here always tell us: ‘Don’t ever let these archives be buried. Keep them safe and show the world.’ This is what we’re doing today.”

Azoulay, a Frenchwoman who is 49 and has served as director for three years, said she hopes the worldwide publication of the first third of its documents would help scholars and survivors as well as the public at large to learn more about the magnitude of the Holocaust — thanks in part to the meticulous record keeping by the Nazis under Adolf Hitler. The records also serve, tacitly, as a bulwark against those who now try to deny the Holocaust ever happened — which, despite constitutional guarantees of free speech, is considered a serious crime in Germany and punishable with long prison sentences.

“Before 2007 the archives were not truly accessible for researchers or the public,” Azoulay said, noting that requests for information from survivors or scholars often took a long time and original documents not made available — because, it was argued, of Germany’s strict data protection and privacy rules.

The files — one of the largest collections involving Nazi persecutions held anywhere in the world — would stretch to 16 miles in length if lined up and are kept in four large buildings in Bad Arolsen, a small spa town with a population of 15,000.

“Before 2007, it took a lot of time and the institution was not always fully forthcoming or transparent about the results of searches for information,” she added. “It was difficult for relatives of victims or survivors to get information. At the time, it was under the control of the Red Cross and it was their decision to keep the archives mostly closed for privacy reasons. Fortunately, that all changed.”

Pressure from the United States and in particular at a hearing in Washington by a House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2007 helped get the archives opened for scholars and victims’ relatives later that year.

The Arolsen Archives, which was first set up in 1943 to help trace missing people, includes almost the entire collection of documents recovered from the two main Nazi death camps in Germany: Dachau and Buchenwald. The organization also collaborates with Israel’s Yad Vashem and the Holocaust museum in Washington.

The Arolsen Archives is larger but less known in Germany than another agency, the Central Office for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes in the southwestern town of Ludwigsburg. It was created in 1958 to deliver Nazi criminals to justice and oversees 1.7 million records of suspects, places and SS military units.

“Arolsen is one of the world’s most important collection of archives on the Holocaust and shows just how massive and methodic it all was,” said Hajo Funke, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University and author of a new book, “The Struggle Over Memory,” about waning interest in studying the Nazi era in Germany.

“The documents were hidden away and inaccessible for far too long,” he said in an interview, adding there was only limited interest in postwar West Germany to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. “It’s very good news that they are opening it all online to the world.”

Kirschbaum is a special correspondent.

Jewish Hartford: European Roots Educator Blogs

August 9th, 2019

Our HERO Center Director, Kimberly Ballaro, participated on an incredible journey to Lithuania and Poland last month. Led by Professor Samuel Kassow, the group visited sites significant to the Holocaust and pre-war Jewish life. Kimberly was fortunate to have received a full educator’s fellowship, made possible by the Coppa Konover Fund, and will serve as a fellow for the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

As part of this fellowship, each educator on the trip was asked to record and document the trip with photos, reflections and questions, and post entries meaningful to them and our community. To see all of the travel blogs posted, please go to the following link: Travel Blogs: Journey to Lithuania and Poland, July 15-26, 2019. To see Kimberly’s blog on its own, please see her posts on our website: HERO Center Journey to Lithuania and Poland.

Places visited included Vilnius, Ponar, Bialastok, Lodz, Warsaw, Treblinka, Krakow and Auschwitz. We hope you will take a look and enjoy the meaningful reflections of each educator. If you have any questions, you can reach Kimberly at herocenter@ctvoicesofhope.org.

Statement on the Attack on Congregation Chabad in Poway, California

Published Monday, April 27, 2019

We have been attacked yet again. A gunman with an anti-Semitic agenda has entered our house of worship to murder innocent people. An attack on any place of worship is an attack on all places of worship. This heinous act occurred on the last day of Passover, when Jews around the world retell the story of freedom from oppression. That freedom is fragile, and oppression in the form of hate is on the rise.

Places of worship should remain safe, welcoming and peaceful spaces of prayer and reflection. Worshippers at Congregation Chabad came under fire while celebrating their freedom and during Yizkor as they remembered loved ones. Lori Gilbert-Kaye, Z”L, was among those worshippers who lost her life while saving the life of another, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. May her memory be a blessing. We pray for a speedy recovery of those injured and for all the Chabad congregants who witnessed yet another horrendous act of hatred.

Today, as we approach Yom Hashoah, we at Voices of Hope are filled with sorrow and anger over the attack on Congregation Chabad in Poway, California. Exactly six months ago, we offered our prayers for those lost in the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue. These anti-Semitic attacks shake us to our core because we have pledged to ensure, as an educational organization, to teach our students to appreciate diversity, to practice empathy and to take a stand against hate, bias and intolerance.

The world needs to recognize the dangers of violent bias and hatred. We all need to take a stand, and Voices of Hope will continue our work to educate future generations to understand why “Never Again” is so important. 

Morocco To Include Holocaust Education in Schools

Original Post from The Jerusalem Post can be found here!

King Mohammed VI of Morocco ordered to incorporate Holocaust studies into the country’s high school curriculum.


Moroccan Jewish pray at a synagogue in Tetouan, March 16, 2008.

Moroccan Jewish pray at a synagogue in Tetouan, March 16, 2008.. (photo credit: RAFAEL MARCHANTE / REUTERS)

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office MK Michael Oren on Friday welcomed the decision of Morocco’s King Mohammad VI to include Holocaust education into his country’s high school curriculum.

“Morocco’s King Muhammad V (sic) sent a profound moral message to the world. Anti Semitism & Holocaust denial is rising in the West, the leader of a proud Arab country is introducing Holocaust education into Moroccan schools with the goal of fighting anti-Semitism. There is indeed hope,” he wrote on Twitter.

Morocco’s King Muhammad V sent a profound moral message to the world. Anti Semitism & Holocaust denial is rising in the West, the leader of a proud Arab country is introducing Holocaust education into Moroccan schools with the goal of fighting anti-Semitism. There is indeed hope.— Michael Oren (@DrMichaelOren) October 5, 2018

On Wednesday, the Moroccan news website Le Desk reported that King Mohammed VI of Morocco ordered to incorporate Holocaust studies into the educational program.

According to the report, the message was delivered via his Education Minister Said Amzazi in a high-level round table discussion on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Antisemitism is the “antonym of freedom of expression,” the message from the King explained. “It manifests the negation of the other and is an admission of failure, insufficiency and inability to coextist.”

“This is the anachronistic return to a mythical past. Is this the past that we want to leave as a legacy for future generations?” the sovereign questioned.

“For all that, the battle against this plague can not be handled carelessly. [The battle] is fought neither with the military nor with money, it above all depends on education and culture,” he added, explaining that, “This battle has a name: education. And in the interest of our children, it is important for us to win it because they will be the beneficiaries and our ambassadors in the future.”

According to Le Desk, as early as 2008 the need for revision of the religious content of school textbooks to include Morocco’s Jewish history and Holocaust education had been acknowledged, but little had been achieved in practice.

In 2016, a partnership agreement between the Archives of Morocco and the Holocaust Memorial Center in France was signed in order to establish “cooperation on all topics related to the history of Jews and Judaism in countries of North Africa, in research and exchange of archives and cultural and scientific events,” Le Desk cited.

In 2017, Morocco approved a proposal to work with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to educate on the Holocaust and to counter intolerance.

This April, a member of the Moroccan royal family, Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui, emphasized the commitment of her country to its Jewish history in a letter to the Moroccan Jewish community in New York City.

“Morocco’s Jewish heritage continues to be part and parcel of our lives and who we are. His Majesty King Mohammed VI is committed to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers and spares no effort in the preservation of this shared heritage,” the letter read.

“It is thus a great source of great pride and joy to witness the upholding of Moroccan Jewish traditions beyond our borders.”

The letter marked a significant overture that some see as part of a continued shifting dynamic in attitudes towards the region’s Jewish community that may extend towards warming relations with Israel.

Israel is not officially recognized by Rabat, in line with a wider Arab-League boycott of the country. However, reports of clandestine relations between the two countries have swirled for years, especially among its security services.

Unlike most Arab countries in the region, Israelis can visit Morocco during certain times of the year if they obtain a travel visa. 

Daniel J. Roth contributed to this report.

Local Survivor Ruth Weiner Speaks at WNE University

The Holocaust How Did It Happen?

From Western New England University. See the original post here.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2019 – 9:30 AM

Western New England University students got a lesson in one of the darkest chapters of human history, as Holocaust survivor Ruth Weiner spoke on campus Tuesday, February 19.

A native of Vienna, Weiner described witnessing the annexation of Austria by Germany’s Third Reich and experiencing the horrors of rising Anti-Semitism firsthand. As a child, she lived through the burning of synagogues and the destruction of Jewish businesses during Kristallnacht, and would eventually escape Austria on the Kindertransport, arriving in England at the outbreak of World War II.

As a prelude to Weiner’s talk, Western New England alumna Amanda Poris ’16 recounted her recent trip to Poland, including visits to historic sites including Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp. Pianist Larry Picard and cellist John Hanifin lent their talents to the program, playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and the “Theme from Schindler’s List” by John Williams.

Weiner’s appearance was sponsored by Western New England University’s Office of Spiritual Life and The Holocaust Education Resource and Outreach Center.

CPTV’s Home Movies: Elizabeth Deutsch

Take a look at this wonderful short episode focusing on Fairfield-based Holocaust survivor, Betty Deutsch. An active speaker in the state of Connecticut since 1980, Voices of Hope honored Betty with the Chesed Award for her incredible acts of loving kindness.

Click here to see this episode of Home Movies from CPTV!