Daily Remembrance

•May 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Now that Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day has passed, it appears that the nation’s eyes are taken up with world tragedy’s including tornado’s, cyclones and a HUGE 7.9 earthquake in China. An entire community lost. Military junta of Myanmar is refusing to allow medical assistance to those devastated by the cyclones, reports the WFP in todays MSN and NYT. “At this moment the most important objective is to get the humanitarian aid inside the country. There are many people that are suffering and therefore to help them … we have to use all the means to help those people,” EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters ahead of special EU talks meant to coordinate aid efforts for Myanmar.”

At home, Americans trying to put the pieces back together in their local town square.

The message here is compassion. Giving a few minutes, dollars or time, to help someone, anyone, close or a far, make it through another day. Can we teach our children charity? Gratitude? Compassion? Only by demonstrating such efforts. If only to say, there by the grace of GOD go I, and in so doing explaining what it all means to our lives and their future.

Remembrance is not for one day a year. It’s for every day.


What is China thinking?

•May 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

In a global society you can’t hide. In an electronic age, you can’t silence, blind or forge information. The long history of demonstration and oppression is not new to China, however, never before has it been so exposed. The media offers real time streaming and blogs like this, could tell the true story, if the goverment didn’t shut-down the websites and jail the free speakers.  As the growth of a global economy has turned China into the third largest economy in the world, is not time to demand respectable behavior?

Do you do business with a thief because his goods are cheap?  

Embargos, financial asset freezing, less rhetoric and more substative action is necessary before the actions taken against the Monks, Sudan and Tibet encourage more Nazi-like behavior. Consider all nations behaving in such a manner) co-horts in a campaign against freedom. Are China’s fingerprints the only ones on the proliferation of terrorism? 

I applaud the call to all Jews, world-wide, to boycott the Olympic games this summer. I agreed with the statement presented by 185 rabbi’s and Jewish leaders, that “The China Olymics are not Kosher,” published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday; the Day of Holocaust Remembrance around the world. China’s record on human rights, cozy relationship as a supplier of weapons to Iran and Syria  and acknowledgement of Hamas, are not activities Americans, Jews or not, should find acceptable.

Now before you cry out that this will hurt the athletes, I am not going there.  The competition will go on, be broadcast and medals awarded, however, what I am suggesting is that we all avoid the mass surge of consumerism that masks as national unity during this international competition, and feeds the China cash cow. Think before you spend. Go to Europe or Israel before you book The Great Wall walking tour.    

Is this convenient timing to call-out CHINA, while we have the world’s attention on the Olympics?  Perhaps we should also look at India, Japan and Russia, as Antoine Halff and Shalon Salomon Wald states in their article “Enough Misguided Maligning of China“, the Forward; “Under a veneer of political correctness, such efforts are threatening to become a major moral failure on our part. For all the obvious differences between China and the Jewish people, it is hard not to notice the similarities between today’s anti-Chinese feeling and the antisemitism that first emerged in the late 19th century, when Western Jews threatened Christian domination by moving into positions of power.

Our insistence on holding China to higher standards than other countries reflects our concerns about how its rise is reshaping our world and challenging Western supremacy. Outrage at Chinese policies is in style and uncontroversial because it gives those anxieties — about losing jobs, about Chinese takeovers of Western companies, about China’s competition with the West for scarce energy resources — a respectable cover.”     

So today, as you shop for a vacation, toys or other products of mass consumption, look at the label and vote with your wallet.

If you don’t like this idea, consider the alternative… who’s next?



Books for Holocaust Remembrance Day- Yom Hashoah

•April 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Books for Holocaust Remembrance Day.


While I firmly believe that every day should begin with a prayer of thanks and gratitude for the blessings we enjoy, and a moment of contemplation for those in the world still suffering, I recognize that not everyone welcomes such thoughts. Therefore, we embrace holidays and earmark specific anniversary’s to jolt our collective conscience; such is the case of the May 2nd, Holocaust Remembrance Day.


To note the significance of Holocaust remebrance Day-Yom Hashoah, the Sunday edition of the WALL STREET JOURNAL Leisure and Arts section– Books, listed five books that reviewer Robert Rozett, Director of the Yad Vashem Library in Jerusalem, considered the “Five Best” tomes to keep the Holocaust ion our mind during this weekend.  His selections were: “Nazi Germany and the Jews” by Saul Friedlander, “Ordinary Men” by Christopher R. Browning, “The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943” by Yisrael Gutman, “If This Is Man” by Primo Levi and “The Lost” by Daniel Mendelsohn. All great books.


However, I would like to offer my selections for books that keep the Holocaust in mind and perhaps jot the reaader with new information or a different perspective on the Holocaust.


a special missionDan Zurzman’s “The Special Mission, Hitler’s Secret Plot to Sieze the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII” is a little known story, which provides the interesting background behind the questions of the relationship between Vatican City, the Jews of Rome and Hitler’s compulsion to control both. Many people have questioned Pope Pius XII’s actions during the war, this book explains without excusing the church. The stroy reads like a mystery at times but delivers a well researched and thoughtfully executed tale of one element of the Holocaust not many know much about. However, we still don’t know what’s in ‘The Archives”.

Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It “Rescuing DaVinci” by Robert M. Edsel is a gorgeous historical reference guide that looks like it belongs on the coffee table. The images tell the tale of Hitler, Himmler and Goring’s systematic plan for stealing all of Europe’s most famous masterpieces to create the ultimate art museum.  The story highlights the cat and mouse game between the curators and collectors trying to protect their art and the job of the U.S. soldiers, known as the Monuments Men dedicated to finding, restoring and restituting the looted art back to it’s owners.  Edsel was also a co-producer in the film The Rape of Europa based on the book by Lynn Nichols. Edsel created the Monuments Men Foundation and was recently recognized by the National Humanities Medal.


From Darkness Into LightThe Holocaust Project, From Darkness into Light by Artist Judy Chicago and Photographer Donald Woodman.  This book is the story of Judy and Donald’s mission to understand and interpret the Holocaust while in the process of making art that documents, memorializes and defines the history of this horrific act. Along the way Chicago and Woodman find their own Jewish identity and a desire to create an ongoing educational legacy.  While the actual artwork of the Holocaust Project has traveled around the world over the past fifteen years, and rests in storage waiting for it’s next venue, readers will find the book (with available teaching guide) a true life account as riveting as a survivor’s story.

Hear a short outtake from my interview with Judy about the making of the Holocaust Project:

Holocaust Remembrancel Day is not only about a moment of silence for the six million who perished, but to allow us all an opportunity to rethink our lives and open our minds to learning more about the history, and appreciating the need to continue to revisit the messages with our young people in as many ways as possible. The more story tellers, the better chance we all have of avoiding another HOLOCAUST.




•April 26, 2008 • 1 Comment

Give me a minute…

In Jewish circles around the globe, May 1st, 2008 will be met with six minutes of silence. One minute for each million of the six million who perished under the Nazi regime of World War II.  Yom Hashoah, the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance. Consider this: if on this day, we sat in meditation, a minute at a time for each of the million people in every part of the globe persecuted, displaced, murdered, and sold into slavery from the beginning of history documented as we know it, there would be silence from sunrise to sunset.


So, how did this day of national Jewish unity evolve? According to “about.com” the story goes that after the war the Jewish people wanted a day of recognition. Yet between the Orthodox’ rabbis, the partisans, Zionists, Holocaust survivors and the Hebrew calendar filled with holidays of sadness, and cheer,  they could not agree on a date.  Until 1951 when, “On April 12, 1951, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) proclaimed Yom Hashoah U’Mered HaGetaot (Holocaust and Ghetto Revolt Remembrance Day) to be the 27th of Nissan. The name later became known as Yom Hashoah Ve Hagevurah (Devastation and Heroism Day) and even later simplified to Yom Hashoah.”   Today it is commonly referred to as Holocaust Remebrance Day.


On the eve of the holiday Passover, many Jewish people take time to pause and rethink the freedoms they have enjoyed in their homeland of choice. Reciting the story of “our people” coming out of the land of Egypt, to their children, so each generation should not forget.


In the NEW AGE of The Secret, New World Order and Pay it Forward, all of which are based on some literal or loose translation of 12 Step, Givers Gain and Do Unto Others… Bible, Talmud, etc.  I believe we all have a burning desire to be loved and appreciated. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of the day.  Forget the celebrity need for recognition, I want to be RESPECTED.  To step forward and do “something”, as did the resistance, freedom fighters and those who hid their neighbors from the Nazi’s.

On this day of Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us remember Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor and hero, who gave his life to protect his students one year ago, during the tragic Virginia Tech massacre.


Let us all consider our impact on this world.  Can we all teach or share or care for someone or something outside oneself, no matter how small the task? With the freedom and liberty we enjoy today, how do we guarantee it for the future? We learn from the past. How do we insure this germ-seed in our youth?


I suggest that as we tell the tale of the plagues and the four sons, we tell the story of people still suffering around the globe, and we say, “for them, not for me, we will do this today.”


In the few minutes it takes to read this, please ask yourself, “What am I doing to leave this world a better place?”  Let us all remember, Yom Hashoah.



Remember or Repeat. 



Sarah Lander Marks is the author of Artist’s Proof. She writes commentary on Jewish, social and humorous subjects. www.readartistsproof.com  Images are noted as “anonymous” from the archives of Holocaust-era artists, credited from the book by Janet Blatter & Sybil Milton’s Art of the Holocaust (1982).

READ an interview about Artist’s Proof at:  http://literatehousewife.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/65-artists-proof/.


The future of Holocaust education…

•April 25, 2008 • 8 Comments

genocide todayWhy the Jews?

Why didn’t they (the Jews of WWII) rebel?

How could all the other countries let this happen?

These are the questions most middle and high school students ask when first introduced to the subject of the Holocaust.  The answers are not simple or easy.  Creating an understanding of social responsibility, democracy and freedom, is a formidable task.

With the passing of each remaining Holocaust survivor, the difficult of relating this historic event in a compelling manner, becomes more difficult.  Who will tell their story? Do the students of today recognize the dynamics of this history lesson? Will they remember, and in so doing, keep from repeating this tragedy ?

Such are the questions that drive the passion of the educators, historians and museum administrators dedicated to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive.  Holocaust and Genocide.  Where the Holocaust ends, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, Darfur and many other nations continue the battle against persecution. How will we; How do we; as a society, respond? 

This winter I had the privilege to attend a meeting of the Western Region of Holocaust education centers. Traveling from as far away as Alaska, the collective delegates represented the most well-respected authorities on Holocaust and genocide in the country, much less the world. Sponsored by the United States Holocaust memorial Museum, participants included the SHOAH Foundation, Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, Oregon State, Chapman, Sonoma State, University’ of Las Vegas and Reno, to name a few.

Facilitated by Dr. Peter Fredlake, Coordinator of the Museum Teacher Fellowship Program of the USHMM, the two and a half day workshop embraced a “World Cafe” format where every attendee had the opportunity to meet one another while addressing key issues faced by Holocaust educators around the globe. Among the questions asked: “As a teacher, “what ethical dilemma’s do you face in the classroom?” and “what are the challenges of reaching young people in the 21st century?”

While funding and resources were repeatedly mentioned, the need for ethnic and political sensitivity while delivering Holocaust material in a multi-cultural, public versus private, classroom setting made educators at the high school and college level nod in agreement.

Two interactive video conferences connected USHMM headquarters in Washington D.C. to the UNLV campus, the subjects covered: The role of teachers in Nazi Germany and the Documents of Propaganda. The use of the internet as a research tool, and as the means in which students today make conscious decisions about their social values, was a hot topic.  The group debated the use of Google Earth’s weblink to The Crisis in Darfur and YouTube’s policy on policing hate language to create engaging dialog regarding WWII and current events. Several participants discussed having used teleconferencing to create an international network between similar age students studying tolerance and democracy, in the US, Israel and Europe.

One of the most rewarding results of the breakout brainstorming sessions was the abundance of offers between centers thousands of miles apart, to share/co-sponsor their “Traveling Trunks”, visiting lecturers, film and musical performances via live feed and streaming video uplinks. The prospect of interlinking websites, co-authoring classroom guides and replicating community events such as the “Day of Learning” , appeared to have successfully fulfilled the resource network Dr. Fredlake had hoped to establish. 

Stephanie Hartman, K-12 Consultant on Social Studies for the State of Nevada DOE and American History Project Facilitator, Sharon Carter delved into plans for a Nevada teacher symposium [on the Holocaust] as the state guidelines for social studies education are being re-evaluated once again. (Guidelines are revised on a regular basis). Leaders from the Sperling, Mack, Kronberg Library for Holocaust Studies, located in Las vegas and USHMM teaching fellow Patricia Holland, were quick to offer their support for 2009 gathering.

Adaire Klein, Director of Library & Archival Services for the Simon Weisenthal Center was quick to distribute material on the variety of curriculm support available from the Museum of Tolerance and SWC.  Morgan Blum, Director of Education for the Holocaust Center of Northern California, discussed age appropriate activities and cross-curricular teaching through the use of music, art and theater.  The ADL, Shoah Foundation and LA Museum of the Holocaust delivered updates on their organizations participation in continuing to develop and support Holocaust education in the classroom and on the Web.

After two and a half exhaustive days and evenings, the participants bundled their books, DVD’s and promotional packages for the trip home.  Refreshed and renewed with ideas and technology, many repeated the question that shadows their efforts on a daily basis; “If not us, who?”… and for the future, it was followed by, we are prepared for the next generation.”


Sarah Lander Marks is the author of Artist’s Proof, she lives in Las Vegas and writes commentary on Jewish, social and humorous themes.