Mercer County Holocaust Center
Moves to New Home at MCCC

2/1/10


West Windsor, N.J. -- A ceremony for the rededication of the Mercer County Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center was held Jan. 27 outside the center's new home on the second floor of the Mercer County Community College Library Building. The move followed a major college renovation project.

Approximately 60 people gathered for the somber, yet celebratory event, which was held on Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps, the largest in Germany. Noted Dr. Paul Winkler, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, the center's highly visible location and large glass windows will help to further its message. "Even when it's closed, people will know what is here - the evidence of man's inhumanity to man," he said. "This center provides the resources and educational tools to gird against intolerance."

Winkler added, "All of this work honors victims and survivors of the Holocaust. One of our goals is that every student should meet a survivor."

The ceremony opened with music by Dr. Tamara R. Freeman, who played melodies from the Holocaust's Jewish ghettos on a viola once owned by a Jewish musician in Germany. Also participating was Rabbi Adam Feldman of the Princeton Jewish Center, who brought a historic Torah from his temple to the ceremony, reuniting it with one on permanent loan at the center. Both Torahs originated in Susice, a small Czechoslovakian town.

In her remarks, MCCC President, Dr. Patricia Donohue, emphasized the relevance of the Holocaust's lessons today in places like Rwanda and Darfur. She noted the importance of "learning about the errors of our ways collectively and to build upon that knowledge to create a better world." The center, she noted, plays a valuable role in teaching young people about the value of human life.

Dr. Donohue invited the assembled guests to return often. "This is your home in Mercer County. You are always welcome. Celebrate the fact of this center and keep the memory alive." She also acknowledged the support of Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

"Survivors speak so you should know," said Judith Sherman, who shared her experience as a 14-year-old girl in the Ravensbruck camp. Despite knowing that her mother had been killed, Sherman pretended she was alive. "I needed to believe," Sherman said. While writing, reading, and prayer were verboten in the camp, Sherman kept a damning mental record. "It was a desperate motivator. We must survive; the tale must be told."

The ceremony concluded with a story by another survivor, Cantor David Wisnia. Imprisoned in Auschwitz for three years, he eventually escaped the Nazis during a death march and joined up with the U.S. infantry, where he fought as machine gunner until the end of the war, eventually emigrating to America. Accompanied by Dr. Freeman, Wisnia performed the "Partisan's Song" in English and Polish. "Never say this in the final road for you," he sang.

Dr. Paul Winkler speaks of the center's
important educational role for young people.
Survivors Judith Sherman, left, and Frida Herkovits
The audience included many who have helped
make the center a reality.
Center director, Dr. Saul Goldwasser, left, and Rabbi Adam Feldman of the Princeton Jewish Center, with historic Torahs displayed at the ceremony.
Cantor David Wisnia sings the "Partisans Song," accompanied by Judith Freeman on viola.

With a mission to reduce prejudice and advocate for human rights for all people, the Mercer County Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center houses educational materials for use by teachers throughout Mercer County who seek to teach the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides . The center hosts an annual workshop that draws approximately 100 educators each year. It is one of 24 such centers across the state. To learn more about the center and upcoming special events, visit the website here.

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