This year, the study of the Holocaust has taken on a broader meaning at the Harriet & Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center. It has always been my approach not to have our students view the Holocaust as merely a unique event in history and memorize only dates, actions and a list of heroes and villains. Instead, we view the Holocaust as the greatest hate crime ever committed. It was conceptualized, organized, staffed, funded, equipped and evaluated to make it an effective killing machine.
Yet this happened more than 75 years ago, and many students entering our programs have little knowledge of the Holocaust. In fact, many of the students who learned of the Holocaust in middle school or high school see it as something bordering on the realm of ancient history.
To address this concern, and to keep our commitment to the survivor community that they will not be forgotten, the Kupferberg Center has embarked upon several programs that give our students a dynamic view of the Holocaust and the tools they need to address the issues of the Holocaust that exist today.
Each semester for the past seven years, a group of two dozen students have met on a weekly basis to study the Holocaust. To many of these students the Holocaust is a revelation, as many countries in Asia and Africa do not include Holocaust studies or even any mention of it in their school systems’ curricula. To remedy this, we require these students to conduct an intensive interview with a local survivor.
The results are meaningful and highly compelling. Relationships are created between students and survivors that go far beyond the closing date of the semester. These interactions transform the students into social activists committed to telling and re-telling these stories, thereby providing survivors with the knowledge that their stories are real and will not be forgotten.
In partnership with Con Edison, the Kupferberg Center has created a Hate Crimes internship that allows our students to study the vicious acts perpetrated during the Holocaust and to seek ways of addressing hate crimes in their current experience. Students have received training and insights in dealing with hate crimes by exposure to such organizations as the NYPD, the Queens DA, the ADL, the Anti-Violence Project LGBT and the Sikh Coalition.
Marisa L. Berman has served as the Assistant Director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center at Queensborough Community College, CUNY since 2012. Prior to this position she served as Executive Director of the Queens Historical Society located at the Kingsland Homestead - NYC Landmark and part of the Historic House Trust of NYC, from 2007-2012.
She earned a M.A. in Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, and Museum Practices from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Berman also holds a B.A. in English Literature, and a B.P.S. in Fashion Design, both from Marist College. She was a participant in the 2012 Developing History Leaders @ SHA program through the Association of State & Local History, and the 2012 Institute for Cultural Entrepreneurship for Museum Leaders in Cooperstown, NY.
She is a contributor to the website Narratively – named one of TIME’s “50 Best Websites of 2012.” She is also a historian specializing in the local history of NY and Long Island. Her publications include: Images of America: Nunley's Amusement Park (Arcadia Publishing, 2013), and the forthcoming Historic Amusement Parks of Long Island (The History Press, 2015).
Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg
Martin Seinfeld, Chairperson
Harbachan Singh, Vice-Chair
Diane Cohen, Secretary/Treasurer
Abe Dyzenhaus, D.D.S.
I. David Widawsky
Owen Bernstein, Ph.D.
May D. Ladman
Anne B. Morse
Sandra Delson, Ed. D
May D. Ladman
Gerdi E. Lipschutz
Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld
Jeffrey Silbiger, M.D.
Marisa L. Berman,
Rosemary Sullivan Zins,
Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg
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