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Tuesday, November 3, 2015
About a year after I joined USC Shoah Foundation, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre’s Holocaust Education Week in Toronto. The theme that year was about memory and they had graciously invited me, the new Director of Education, to discuss memory in the context of the Institute’s education platform IWitness and testimony-based education.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
You’re never too old to learn about cultural diversity.I realized this over the weekend, on the eve of Hanukkah. My mom, a fourth grade teacher, told me about an incident she’d just experienced at a local party-supply store.She was shopping for her annual Hanukkah lesson, in which she briefly teaches her students the meaning of the holiday, demonstrates how she lights our family menorah, and leads them in a spirited game of dreidel. Everyone goes home with a little bag of chocolate gelt, a dreidel and maybe a Hanukkah-themed pencil.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
A person doesn’t visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and come away unchanged, and I was no exception.The empty barracks, the barbed-wire fencing, the solemn exhibits, the telltale chimneys – all these vestiges left a strong impression. But what struck me most was the sheer vastness of the sprawling memorial to history’s most notorious death camp.Walking through Birkenau with my tour group, I gaped at the emptiness stretching for a mile in every direction – nothing but the crumbling remains of buildings half-buried in snow.
Monday, May 1, 2017
One would think that the grandson of four Polish Holocaust survivors would have an in-depth knowledge of the Shoah, but it was quite the contrary. The Holocaust was a topic that was never discussed when I was growing up. When it was introduced, it was in the most unconventional way, through satire film and television. I knew this was just a facade draped over the painful truth.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
The Holocaust is inarguably the most heinous crime against a group of people we have seen in modern times. Despite decades of wrestling with how such an atrocity could have occurred and the postwar generation promising never again, history keeps repeating itself. Therefore, the collection and the custody of testimonies from those who bear witness remains a necessary task for as long as inhumanities keep occurring. Genocide and crimes against humanity transcend religions, cultures, languages, geographic regions, socioeconomics, gender, age, etc., making testimony collection across all cultures not only a moral responsibility, but imperative given the mission of USC Shoah Foundation. We know for sure that under a certain set of circumstances, genocide could happen anywhere, and again.
Monday, March 31, 2014
In the spring of 2000, I agreed to become the president and chief executive officer of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, the predecessor of USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education. My family and I were then living in Chicago, but the hectic pace of preparing to move to Los Angeles did not prevent my wife, Margee, and me from stealing away for a weekend to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We found an isolated beach and flew off, knowing that we would return to the inevitable chaos of moving to LA.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Auschwitz, the final destination of Jewish people from across Europe destined to be murdered as a part of the Nazi genocide of the Jews.Auschwitz, a place that housed prisoners of many religions, persuasions, minorities and nationalities, but whose evil reputation is seared onto our collective conscience because the five gas chambers at Birkenau were there for one reason only - to devour the lives of 960,000 Jews.Auschwitz, which has evolved into a universal symbol of man's inhumanity to man – and indeed it does remind us just how cruel human beings can be.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
We are hiding from the fact that subsequent to Haman, Hitler was successful in carrying out the genocide of the Jews and the survivors of the Holocaust are better examples than Mordechai or Esther.
Friday, April 3, 2015
Over the last few days I’ve overheard my grandmother and father talk endlessly about Celia Tiano, an Auschwitz survivor from Salonika, Greece, their next-door neighbor on 7th Avenue -- a quiet block in the Hyde Park area of L.A., during the 1950s and 60s. After more than 40 years, my family has reconnected with Celia -- through testimony. We were able to make this connection because of a film project I had been working on for the Student Voices Short Film Contest.
Friday, March 25, 2016
The question “How do you teach this stuff?” is what brought me to USC Shoah Foundation in 2010 to begin my training and work as a Master Teacher. I was beginning to understand that survivor testimony is the formative center of Holocaust education, that once a student begins to see Holocaust education content through the lens of testimony, the education and the student begin to change in ways that are profound.
Monday, February 1, 2016
The multidisciplinary Holocaust Geographies Collaborative research group returned to USC Shoah Foundation and shared their plans for an exciting new project harnessing the power of testimony that will begin this summer.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
A few weeks ago, a student I was interviewing for a profile I was writing on him for USC Shoah Foundation’s website said something interesting: “Growing up Jewish, the Holocaust is pretty much always there.”I could identify. As someone who went to Hebrew school twice a week, every week, from the age of 5 to 13, the Holocaust was something I was always aware of. I was taught about it frequently, both in religious and regular school.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
This morning, I stood at attention as our select chorus sang the Star Spangled Banner. Looking at the flag in the middle school auditorium, I paused a moment to feel gratitude for growing up in a country where I have the right to define and redefine myself. I grew up believing I could become whoever I wanted to be. The flag stood tall, as did I. Thank goodness, I thought, that I live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Stefan (Teofil) Kosinski’s testimony is the only English-language testimony we have in the Visual History Archive from a homosexual survivor, which is also remarkable for the fact that Stefan is not a native English speaker.

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