The Oct. 24 story about the YouTube Video made by a concerned Holocaust survivor’s daughter, “YouTube video renews debate over mandated Shoa ed. in PA” was quite disturbing and depressing.
Pennsylvania is overdue to join the ranks of states who have deemed the Holocaust to be a high school subject worthy of mandatory funding. California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York have all prioritized this topic, including it in their high school curricula. Why is Pennsylvania unable or unwilling to see the value of doing so before all the witnesses to this historical blight disappear and are unable to provide first-person accounts of this travesty?
The time has come to begin this plan.
We are fortunate in western Pennsylvania to have the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District underwriting for, and escorting kids to, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The ZOA has undertaken a major effort to enlighten ninth- and 10th-graders in our area about the horrible and unique genocide that decimated the Jewish people in Europe in the 1930s and ’40s.
Past ZOA-Pittsburgh President Zalman Shapiro started the program years ago. Current President Ira Frank and Executive Director Stuart Pavilack revived it in 2011. Money is being raised, foundations contacted and volunteer chaperones recruited to ensure that large numbers of Allegheny County youth are exposed to the facts about the attempted genocide of the Jews by the Nazis and all its implications.
One of the main purposes of ZOA’s annual dinner event at Beth Shalom on Nov. 12 is to raise funds to enable the continuation of this vital cause. The more the word is spread to politicians and educators about the necessity of imparting this unique period of history, then the higher likelihood of our children and grandchildren enjoying safer lives.
As George Santayana famously stated, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” We cannot fail our children by omitting such a vital lesson from their coursework. I ask Chronicle readers to please share the import of this project with the respective school districts in their communities, financially support ZOA’s venture, and actively help to communicate the crucial message to “never forget.”
High school Jewish ed.
I would like to make two comments on Avi Baron Munro’s well-reasoned column about the importance of Jewish day school education to Jewish continuity (“Tweet from Sinai: Checked in on my people, majority worshipping Golden Calf, outcome uncertain,” Oct. 31).
First, we are fortunate in Pittsburgh to have three excellent day schools in Pittsburgh: Community Day School, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, and Yeshiva Achei Temimim. Collectively, these schools encompass a full spectrum of Jewish practice and observance, so that there should be an educational home for every Jewish child in Pittsburgh.
Second, while a Jewish educational experience from K-8 is of immense value, there is also a strong case to be made for continued educational immersion in a Jewish day school during the high school years, such as is offered at Hillel and Yeshiva. Adolescence is a time when life goals and identity become consolidated. A Jewish high school education exposes adolescents to positive role models that exemplify Jewish values and provides the background and skills for a lifelong commitment to learning and full participation in Jewish communal life.
I am confident that the community stands with Michael Milch in the sentiments expressed in his fine Oct. 31 letter, “Respect Tolerance.”
My negative reaction to the state legislation to which he refers, which would require schools to display “In God We Trust”, is stronger than that of Mr. Milch.
I consider this latest effort to indoctrinate Pennsylvanians in the religion of the maker of the bill, Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth Township), to be outrageous. Rep. Saccone asserts that this is not about religion, rather it is a matter of history. Sure.
He claims that there is support for the measure in his district by a margin of 500-1. I do not know how he is measuring such support, and I do not believe him, but even if he is correct, since when do we decide such a matter on the basis of what the majority believes? If majority rule were in effect, mixed race marriages would have remained illegal in some states and the doctrine of “separate but equal” would have long endured.
I find it ironic that a small-government conservative Republican such as Rep. Saccone, one who generally supports getting government out of the way, now seeks to place it in the way, harnessing the police powers of government to force schools to post a religious slogan. I wonder what sanction this state “leader” would dispense to those districts that would refuse.
In a statement that he came to regret, President Obama said that Pennsylvanians “cling to guns and religion”. He was right, and when extremist elements take over either arena as they have, the commonwealth is a dangerous place to reside.
Upper St. Clair