I, like most, have been disturbed recently by a few vocal celebrities who have expressed hate toward the Jewish people. Their words fuel and promote normalizing antisemitic feelings, mockery of the Holocaust and the sharing of hate via social media and other platforms. While these celebrities may be dismissed by you and I as clearly being “crazy” or “internet trolls,” it is not so clear to other people. Those who are unexposed to Jews in their personal life, or who lack the education to understand and appreciate where these hateful ideas originate, may not understand why they are so incorrect and dangerous. Education and exposure are thus vital.

The Responsibilities of a Jewish Heritage
We all find ourselves becoming responsible for certain things as we grow up. Some responsibility arises out of our choices, like choosing to purchase a house and becoming responsible for maintaining it. Other responsibilities arise from simply existing within our environment, which is not a choice.

Growing up Jewish in a small city where I was one of the few Jewish children at my school, I was often asked in the classroom to answer my non-Jewish classmates’ questions relating to the religion, ethnicity, culture or sociological issues of our people. Sometimes these questions were easy to answer, like for instance, “At what age does a Jew have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah?” Others were difficult for a child to answer, like, “What role did the Jews have in Jesus’ death?” or “Why did the Holocaust happen?” 

Certain questions felt too complicated for a child like me to be expected to answer, as they would lay the groundwork for other children who were mostly Christian. They often turned their heads to me in bewilderment over such questions. While I was never particularly drawn to the study of Jewish history, it nonetheless became clear that by merely existing as a Jew in an environment where I was a minority, I had a responsibility to educate myself and those around me, because hate is a fire originating by sparks of ignorance. 

It is Everyone’s Responsibility to Combat Ignorance with Truth
By merely existing, we all have responsibilities; with misinformation and disinformation plaguing all communities, one of these persisting responsibilities is to educate ourselves about antisemitism and learning to speak intelligently about it. This includes educating ourselves about the Holocaust, which was history’s most extreme form of antisemitism. 

Jews, and just as important, people of other faiths and ethnicities, have the responsibility to intelligently educate others in our communities to quash antisemitism. Therefore, I look forward to furthering IHRE’s goals of advancing knowledge and awareness about the Holocaust to individuals for their own benefit and to inform others – Jews, non-Jews and those under the persuasion of hateful rhetoric – of the reality that antisemitism causes, like the Holocaust, with a simple mission to enhance knowledge and togetherness.