Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz detailed his educational initiatives designed to reduce the number of anti-Semitic incidents, in an address before the World without Nazism’s global conference Never Again: Remembrance of the Holocaust, prevention of crimes against humanity. Speak out against intolerance, racism, extremism, negativism, anti-Semitism. With anti-Semitic incidents continuing to occur in Brooklyn, as well as throughout the world, Cymbrowitz, a second generation Holocaust Survivor, told the gathering of members of parliaments, government ministers, elected officials and representatives of international human rights organizations, that “if we ever hope to stem the rising trend of anti-Semitic hate crimes, we must educate our young people.”
“Regrettably, anti-Semitism is not just part of our history, but a horrifying reality that continues to headline our news. We are seeing an alarming escalation in the number of anti-Semitic incidents, hate crimes and events taking place throughout Europe, Canada and the United States. From the recent dreadful graffiti attack on a Lithuanian Holocaust Memorial claiming ‘Hitler was right,’ to the chilling inscription defacing a Jewish World War II monument reading ‘they were flammable’ emblazoned with the ultimate symbol of hate, a Nazi swastika, only several months ago in Jedwabne, Poland,” Cymbrowitz warned.
Cymbrowitz also referred to the recent swastika incidents that occurred in Brooklyn, including the spray painting of several trees with swastikas at Floyd Bennett Field less than two weeks ago, “Seeing these acts of hatred, still being perpetuated today underscores the growing, urgent need to disseminate knowledge to the younger generation to educate them on the reality of what can materialize from the evils of intolerance and prejudice.”
“We must remain vigilant in our efforts to encourage our schools, if there are no programs already in place, to teach our children the valuable lessons learned from the Holocaust, so that those lessons become ingrained in them and that no one will again fall victim to hatred or persecution because of their personal or religious beliefs,” Cymbrowitz told the conference delegates.
Cymbrowitz sponsors an annual Holocaust Memorial Essay, Poetry, Performance and Art Contest to encourage students to study this horrendous era in history and express their feelings using their talents. He also visits schools and community organizations to share his own feelings and relate his parents’ Holocaust experiences.
While teaching about the Holocaust is a required part of the New York State curriculum, Cymbrowitz wrote Chancellor Walcott earlier this month imploring him to expeditiously implement a program that fosters age appropriate discussions on the meaning of a swastika during social studies lessons.
Cymbrowitz continued, “Our mission is not an easy one, but a task I speak of with great urgency, on behalf of over six million precious lives, needlessly lost and forever silenced. In honor of their memory and sacrifice we cannot rest until we eradicate fear, hatred, prejudice and ignorance globally. We have to encourage the various nations that comprise our world to come together in unity and solidarity to teach and promote the acceptance of religious freedoms and an individual’s right to civil liberty, without fear of persecution or intolerance.”
“Time is at hand; we cannot sit idly by and bear witness, to the atrocities that are still occurring because to say and do nothing is not a viable option. The antidote to ignorance is knowledge. Education used correctly is a powerful tool. That is why a conference such as this is so significant and relevant. It sends a distinctive message to the world – we will never forget our world’s true history and it is our duty to ensure that its all too important lessons are continued to be shared with future generations for years to come,” Cymbrowitz concluded.