Center fosters learning to prevent genocides

This statue depicts a man who suffered during the Holocaust. Menorahs, like the one featured in this picture, are one of the artifacts found at the Holocaust and Genocide Resource Center.

by Emily Landgraf

Seventy years after what historians and professors consider to be the beginning of the Holocaust, members of the Rider community gathered to remember the “Night of Broken Glass.”

An afternoon interfaith service was held in remembrance of Kristallnacht — “night of broken glass” in German — in Gill Chapel on Sunday, Nov. 10.

Kristallnacht occurred in Germany on Nov. 9-10, 1938. During this time, not only were Jews murdered and arrested, but hundreds of synagogues, Jewish businesses and homes were vandalized.

Dr. Harvey Kornberg, a political science professor, said that when Kristallnacht occurred, the “road to Auschwitz was begun.”

“This was the first indication that [the Nazis] were going to solve what Hitler called the Jewish Question by using violence,” Kornberg said.

Rider’s Holocaust and Genocide Resource Center was established in 1984 to inform educators in New Jersey how to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides, such as those in Cambodia, Rwanda and the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

“New Jersey is a mandate state,” Kornberg said. “[Teachers] are required, by law, to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides on both the grade school and high school levels.”

New Jersey is one of only nine states in the country required by law to teach these subjects.

There are 21 Holocaust centers throughout New Jersey, the most of any state in the country. Those working at the centers analyze the different stages of genocides and host workshops and conferences to educate teachers. Kornberg is currently the president of the Association of New Jersey Holocaust Organizations. He is also a board director for the Association of Holocaust Organizations, which is the national level of the group. According to Kornberg, there are 18 countries throughout the world that are members of the international-level Association of Holocaust Organizations.
Students and faculty at Rider are encouraged to use the Holocaust and Genocide Resource Center. It has an extensive library and many educational films about the Holocaust and other genocides.

In 1993, the center was renamed after Julius and Dorothy Koppelman because they provided the center with a very generous donation so the educational mission could continue. Also, the center holds the Dorothy Koppelman Lecture to honor her every year. It is a Holocaust memorial lecture that usually takes place in late June, according to Kornberg.

Another event commemorated by the center is Yom Ha Shoah, or the Day of the Holocaust. This is an international commemoration of the Holocaust, and there is an interfaith service on campus for the event. It is a religious service as well as an educational event.

Kornberg is pleased with the center’s success and with the Kristallnacht service. In the past, the service was held in area churches and synagogues, a practice that Kornberg would like to reinstate. Kornberg thinks it would be beneficial to hold the service in different houses of worship.

“When one religion is vilified, no religion is safe,” Kornberg said. “This is one of the main messages of the center. Holocaust and genocide education is crucial if the goal of ending genocide worldwide is ever to be reached.”

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