Originally Published: February 13, 2012 3:49 p.m.
I recently heard a group of local teenagers talking when one of them made a reference to Hitler and Nazi Germany. A young lady in the group asked, "What's a Nazi?"
One of the boys in the group started to explain the Nazi Party during World War II and the Holocaust.
It shocked me that a high school student would not have knowledge of a totalitarian group that caused the death of millions of European Jews and other minorities.
The thought immediately entered my mind, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Holocaust denial is a choice. It reflects a deliberate decision to ignore horrific events of the past. But ignorance should not play a role in Holocaust denial -- not in a day when we possess the greatest level of information-sharing technology the world has ever known.
A $100,000 YouTube video was recently posted that is designed specifically to raise awareness of the Holocaust among non-Jewish teenagers in the United States.
According to its producers, "Rainbow in the Night" is the first Holocaust clip ever to be made.
"There is an entire generation that is growing up in a fast-paced world, in which something new happens every moment. That young generation hasn't got the patience to learn about the Holocaust," said Daniel Finkelman, an ultra-Orthodox man behind the project. "For us it is an inseparable part of the Jewish history; for them it is another black and white entry in the encyclopedia."
The video starts with a panning view of a 1939 original oil painting of a synagogue being ravaged by the Nazis, shown at a private event in the survivor's home.
I love the music, a haunting song by Cecelia Margules, which doesn't really show up until about 2 minutes into the clip. It starts with a beautiful cello solo, which triggers memories in the survivor. The music clip itself is only about five minutes long. There is a minute of credits at the end.
The survivor in the video first recalls the warmth of his childhood home, then the shock and disbelief as people are forced to leave their homes and later taken to an extermination camp.
The survivor relives the inexplicable power that enabled him to persevere, the "rainbow" in the figurative night that promised better days to come.
This message of hope is one of the things that really struck me, something you do not always see when stories of the Holocaust are shared.
Finkelman encapsulates the horrors of the Holocaust while at the same time emphasizing the tremendous hopes of the Jewish people who suffered there.
As the number of Holocaust survivors decreases with time, so too do the voices that keep the memory of the atrocity alive, explained Finkelman. "As those voices fade, the voices of Holocaust deniers are amplified."
I pray we will keep those voices heard that call for unity and respect for all humanity.
Learning about the Holocaust
Last month, a new survey showed that only 6 percent of Israeli children cite history lessons as a significant source of learning about the Holocaust.
The annual survey, conducted by the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies among 919 students, shows school education has a very limited influence on shaping young Israelis' understanding of the Holocaust.
Only 0.5 percent said the Holocaust memorial ceremonies were significant in their Holocaust education.
Almost 40 percent cited survivors' testimonies as having the highest educational value.