WJC has constructed an impressive monument to remember the Shoah, the Holocaust. On it are the names of victims who are relatives of WJC members. But we are going further, and now are building an interactive Holocaust Learning Center to be a source of learning not just about the facts about the Shoah, but to show the human side and how it affected WJC families. The Center is also a place for young people and anybody to learn about the Holocaust in a relaxed atmosphere.
Plans are being made to institute and nurture this Holocaust Learning Center (HLC) at the Westchester Jewish Center (WJC) to be a living memorial and educational tool to accompany the existing physical memorial to the Holocaust on WJC grounds. The HLC will be a meaningful addition to WJC that will be a source of pride for members, an educational resource for our young people so that the Holocaust is not forgotten, a place from which the entire community can appreciate and gain Jewish value and spirit, and an opportunity to raise WJC’s visibility as a major regional center for Judaism.
The HLC will have two major components. First, the physical HLC will be a section of the WJC Library devoted to housing our current large volume of Holocaust-related books, videos, artifacts, and other information. In addition, this WJC HLC webpage will be, in time, a source for additional study and research.
To search the Hendel Family Library catalogue for books and other media that are included in the Holocaust Learning Center's collection, click here to access our library database.
Our goal for the WJC HLC is not to only be a center of learning about the Holocaust with its many volumes of books, but also to provide the interested person with a personal touch. The HLC will also highlight specific, personal histories, artifacts, and videos to understand WJC families who were impacted by the Holocaust on a personal basis. Currently, a committee of WJC volunteers is collecting the personal stories of remaining survivors or their next of kin. We feel that beyond the dark statistics of the Holocaust, the tragedy can best be taught, remembered, and transmitted through the personal stories that WJC member families actually experienced.
The HLC will also have periodic programs concerning the Holocaust, such as talks by survivors, scholars, and educators in order for the Holocaust to not be forgotten.
In the spirit of sharing personal stories, we have shared a very inspiring and beautiful story below.
Anniversaire Andree Geulen - On the birthday of Andree Geulen is a song written in honor of Andree Geulen on the occasion of her 90th birthday. In Belgium, during the Holocaust, she undertook the rescue of many Jewish children. In the Summer of 1942, as persecution of Belgium's Jews began, an underground Jewish group took form in cooperation with the Belgian underground and set out to rescue Jewish children by hiding them in various places around the country. The most active team consisted of twelve women, mostly non-Jewish, who managed to hide some 3000 children. This admirable clandestine campaign was unique by the complexity of its structure and the degree of its success. The only survivor from the team today is Andrée Geulen, and on September 4th, a great number of the children who had been hidden celebrated her ninetieth birthday. The celebration included Keren Hadar's performance of a song in her honor. This song, composed very shortly before the event, arose from an impulse on the part of one of the hidden children — Shaul Harel, who today is a professor of pediatric neurology.
Recent HLC events include:
- Holocaust Learning Center Dedication, which was featured in the May, 2012 issue of the Larchmont Ledger. Click here to view the coverage, which includes photos and interviews from this memorable event.
- "Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival", where author June Feiss Hersh gave us insights into her book, which highlights the remarkable stories and authentic recipes of Holocaust survivors.
- "The Memory Project", which included the screening of an acclaimed film "Finding Kalman", an inspiring talk, and a hands-on art workshop.