(PRESS RELEASE)_(Delray Beach, FL – December 5, 2022) Marjorie Waldo, President & CEO of Arts Garage, today issued a public statement on antisemitism and the Holocaust by playwright Tyler Ellman, who’s play Tap Dancing Through Auschwitz will be presented at Arts Garage on December 22 and 24.
Public Statement by Tyler Ellman
Last month—November 9, 2022—marked 84 years since Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, an egregious moment in history that initiated the slaughter of millions.
Among them are my family that resided in a little town in Hungary, now modern-day Ukraine, called Svalyava.
When you live in a world, where pop-culture stars with more followers on Twitter than the number of Jews alive COMBINED with the number of people murdered in the Holocaust are promoting hate speech that’s deemed “cool” - what do we do?
Well - let’s start with what’s wrong. We are failing.
We are living in a world where politics defines us – social media divides us – and more importantly the younger generations are receiving information in a way that is far different than any other.
The black and white videos with violins playing in the background educating us about the Holocaust just are not cutting it anymore.
The answer became clear to me in 2013 when I went to a Holocaust convention tour put on by the Washington D.C. Holocaust Museum in Boca Raton. Throughout the convention, the vast majority of the audience were seniors ages 70 and up. While it is excellent to see such a passion for education and learning – this is not the audience we need to be teaching. When we look at where we are now and where we want to be in 20 years, it becomes clear WHO we need to be reaching.
Less than 100 years following the Holocaust, around the world we see hate crimes continue to grow, not shrink, at a rapid rate. Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, gay, transgender, and... Jewish. According to the FBI’s hate crime statistics, Jews are reported as receiving approximately 60% of religious-based hate crimes in the United States….
Here is why…
We need to do better connecting with the younger generations.
THEY are the ones who will continue to tell the stories and history of what happened. THEY are the ones who will raise the next generation and share the horrors of our past. And THEY are our only hope, of creating a better and more loving future.
Parents at an early age can teach their kids about the powers of kindness and lessons from history – I have been learning about these topics since the young age of 3 years old. Beginning in elementary schools, teachers can educate their students, through amazing, child-friendly books like Number The Stars, and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. In middle schools, we should be having events during classes, such as host guest speakers like Holocaust survivors or subject matter experts. Educating students outside of their everyday classroom setting can be extremely helpful in their development.
We should give what every high school kid would consider their DREAM - spending the entire class period watching a movie… Yes, a movie. Watching compelling, but educational movies in school, like Schindler’s List, Defiance, and even JoJo Rabbit.
There is so much we can do outside of conventional textbooks to make an impact. As Robert F. Kennedy once said, ‘It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice. He sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”
We can all be that tiny ripple of hope.
When I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, I felt something that I never wanted a single person to feel. I felt like a fish in a fishbowl. How could someone hate me so much for just being me? How can someone hate others for them being who they are?
From that day forward, I never wanted a single person to feel like that again. Starting at the age of 16, I began my mission to educate others. I befriended child survivors, who after suffering horrendous childhoods, are some of the most compassionate, open-minded, strongest, and most loving people I know.
This is more than antisemitism – it’s a lesson for the world at large. This is what happens when we generalize, discriminate, and turn the other cheek. This is not just about reaching young Jewish audiences but in fact ALL young audiences.
There is so much that divides us – but when we look at what’s really going on – there is so much that we all can understand from one another. My dream is that one day we’ll live in a more loving world, where instead of Jews fighting against Anti-Semitism and Muslims fighting against Islamophobia, we have Jews fighting against Islamophobia, and Muslims fighting against Anti-Semitism.
A world with more empathy and the wherewithal to stand tall for one another. Only together, by embracing what makes us different, can we actually embrace what makes us human. Only then, can we truly make a difference.
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
Listen to Chapter One of "Panama Palmer"