Suzi Weiss-Fischmann’s mother survived Auschwitz because she was sent to the right of the camp as slave labor. Her grandmother and uncles were directed to the left, to die in gas chambers because they were considered too old or too young to work.
Born in Hungary, Weiss-Fischmann supports USC Shoah Foundation’s International Teacher Training program to help reverse the rising antisemitism and intolerance there. She wants no one else to ever have to suffer the way her mother did — or to endure the even worse fates of those family members she never knew.
“It’s scary what young people perceive or believe,” Weiss-Fischmann says. And since ignorance provides fertile soil for hatred, the Institute’s educational tools offer the sunlight to let tolerance and understanding blossom.
Weiss-Fischmann believes that the Institute’s work is vital to fighting hatred in all its forms, including bullying. “We live in a world where there is so much hatred that anybody can be singled out,” she observes. “And with social media, it’s more dangerous than ever, because people can send out all this hatred anonymously.”
Yet learning directly from educators armed with Institute training and resources can offset such pernicious influences by promoting face-to-face dialogue. “There has to be a human connection, so young people can listen, learn, and talk though their feelings,” Weiss-Fischmann says. “So programs like this are more important than ever, and USC Shoah Foundation’s work is just beginning.”