Generations After

Generation After Alive and Well and Now a Dot.Com - February 2012

A message from the Director of Holocaust EDUCATION AND Israeli Programs: Orna Nissan

Orna NissanThe Holocaust as a subject matter is very hard to comprehend.  It is not the most popular subject to learn in school, nor is it subject matter that most people would normally choose for their leisure-time reading (or viewing). It stirs up sadness and can cause feelings of discomfort and confusion. There are the inevitable questions. Why didn't we resist more? Did we go like sheep to the slaughter, as some have said? Why did the rest of the world turn a blind eye when many knew full well what was happening to our people? When we hear the words Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen, we are consumed with feelings of pain and despair and we are left to wonder how this almost-successful attempt to wipe out a people could have happened in the modern age. These are complicated questions and the answers equally complex.
They can be found, though, in the testimony of the lucky few who survived and are generous and brave enough to share their stories with us, as well as in the vast amount of holocaust material available, if one chooses to look, and listen.  But, you ask, "can't we let go of memories that haunt us in our darkest dreams"?   After all, it has been more than 60 years. The answer is NO!!  We cannot leave the Holocaust and its devastating consequences alone, and the reason we can't is simple. The world today is rampant with the same evil, prejudice, persecution, dehumanization as it was then and now even denial and distortion of this horror.
Apparently mankind has yet to evolve to the point where a holocaust is no longer a possibility, and so we have a moral obligation to remember and to teach future generations its lessons. Our Holocaust survivors speak; actually give testimony, in hopes that someday this will be a world where people can live out their lives without fear of persecution or prejudice, a more humane world. As the child of a survivor, I can tell you that this is not an easy thing for them, dredging up incredibly painful experiences, many kept silent for years.  I asked my father once why he never talked about his experiences, and of course there is more than one answer to this question. Any parent would want to spare their child (and other family and friends) these gruesome details, but the one I think the answer that is most relevant here is that he felt in the past that people really did not want to hear about it. The good news is that this seems to have changed somewhat in recent years. Interest in Holocaust education is up. People do seem to want to know more. We have quite a sizable group of survivors living in the Sarasota-Manatee area and get together for remembrance and social events a few times a year.  We have a speaker's bureau and some of our local survivors are active speakers in schools, churches and community events. If one does the math, though, it becomes apparent, that they are getting old in years. Most are not in the best of health.  Some are no longer with us, sadly. 
With this in mind, a group of children of survivors, "second gens" as we call ourselves, have a group in the Sarasota-Manatee area that was created five years ago as part of Dr. Helen Fagin's legacy, the GENERATION AFTER group. We hope to pick up the torch and continue to raise awareness of the Holocaust and related issues.  We have created and maintain a Speaker's Bureau for various topics on the Holocaust, identify and participate in appropriate community events and forums including educational workshops and excursions. We enjoy meeting and socializing with other group members and other organizations (of descendants of Holocaust survivors)
We are the only 2nd gen group in this area that have a website of which we are very proud.  We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the site attracts 1,200+ visitors per month. People from over 20 countries visit the site, including USA , Canada , Russia , France , Ukraine , Turkey , Czech Republic .  This shows that there is an interest; even a hunger for Holocaust information. The site has also facilitated a re-connection between a Generation After member and family members of people who saved his father. The web is indeed a powerful tool and the Holocaust still attracts interest after sixty-seven years. One thing we found rather surprising is there were not too many visits to our site from our own Sara-Man area and we could only conclude many folks may not know of our existence. We invite you to take a little time, visit our site and get to know us. Read Dr. Fagin's legacy and know that we are doing what we can to make it a reality, "from this depth of darkness a new light--one of peace, of tolerance and of understanding, reverence for life and human dignity for all men, women and children of the world."  A tall order, but if not us, who, and if not now, when?

Orna Nissan
Director ,Holocaust Education and Israeli Programs

Jewsih Federation

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