Tallahassee Community College kicked off its Holocaust Education Week on Monday in Turner Auditorium. The college partnered with the Holocaust Education Resource Council for a week of events to encourage tolerance and promote education in the Tallahassee community. With this being the inaugural Holocaust Education Week, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Foundation Executive Director Heather Mitchell was initially unsure about the week’s success.
“I was a little nervous at first because this is a new project,” Mitchell said. “I thought to myself, ‘How are we going to get people engaged in this?’ Everyone loved the idea, and the series of events we have planned, I think, are really special.”
The first film shown, “Words Matter,” was a collective of student reflections about their takeaways from the Holocaust. The night’s featured presentation was the showing of “Eva,” which chronicles the life of Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor.
Immediately following the film premieres was a question-and-answer style panel discussion. The panel consisted of Temple Israel Rabbi Jack Ronberg, Executive Director of Children’s Movement of Miami and former Miami Herald Publisher Dave Lawrence, and “Eva” director Ted Green.
When discussing the process to make this film, Green detailed some of the challenges he faced during the making of the movie.
“What’s so difficult about this is that so much has been done on Eva [Mozes Kor] before. But, what we saw in other works was that the focus was on the first and last sections of [Kor’s] life,” Green said. “What’s different about this film is that we focus on the half-century of life that isn’t usually covered: 1945-1995.”
Looking forward, the rest of the week featured a book signing with author Peter Hayes, a community panel discussion about the effects of hate speech, and a “Lunch & Learn Lecture” with Dr. Monte Finkelstein.
Holocaust Education Week also includes a pop-up service learning project in the Student Union that ran through Thursday afternoon. “The Holocaust and the Human Spirit: A Time to Remember, Reflect, and Respond” will allow current students to learn about the tragic event, and educate them through visual aids and projects from their fellow students.
TCC student Aaron Amindon, who presented during the service learning project, said that the importance of this week goes beyond the films, panels and lectures.
“This was an awful event, which was a terrible experience for many,” Amindon said. “This didn’t just happen; It built up through a decade of slander and unjustified hatred for a group of people. It’s not hard for that to happen again.”