Thirty years ago, local Holocaust survivors, Sonoma State University (SSU) faculty, and community members came together to form the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide to ensure that "never again" would such tragedies and devastation occur.
In turn, this led to the creation of the SSU lecture series on the Holocaust and Genocide in 1984 and the creation of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in 1987.
The importance of preserving the legacy of Holocaust and genocide education at SSU is being recognized on Sunday, Jan. 26 with a special event from 2-5 p.m. at Congregation Ner Shalom, 85 La Plaza, Cotati. The public is invited and the doors open at 1:30 p.m. A donation of $20 is asked for those who attend.
The program includes a keynote speech from Her Excellency Professor Mathilde Mukantabana, currently ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Rwanda, who was a Lecture Series speaker and member of the Alliance Board for many years before being named to the post last year.
"My work with the Alliance and my contribution to the lecture series, strengthened my nascent steps into the arena of social activism and broadened the scope and extent of my influence in both Rwanda and outside Rwanda," said the ambassador. "My friends and colleagues at the Alliance enriched my life in more ways than I can count and have been my anchor for more than a decade."
Holocaust scholar and Emerita Professor Myrna Goodman will also be honored for 17 years of teaching in the Lecture Series and serving as Director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies at SSU.
"Never Again" today is a rallying cry for persistent and vigilent action to prevent genocide," she said. "It encourages us to remember and learn about the experiences of victims of past genocides. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum considers it a promise to past and future generations that we will do everything we can to ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated. That idea is the foundation of all we do as educators."
Comments by SSU President Ruben Armiñana, Provost Andrew Rogerson and Interim Dean of Social Sciences John Wingard will be featured. A golden proclamation from Sonoma County and one from the City of Santa Rosa will also be presented.
The program also includes visual displays, video clips, and music in honor of past faculty, Alliance board members, and program supporters. A live and silent auction conducted by the child of a Holocaust survivor, Steven Godfryd, promises to be an innovative and entertaining way to support continuing Holocaust and genocide education.
Three decades ago, Holocaust curricula was not common in schools and it wasn't until 1985 that California enacted a mandate for Holocaust and genocide education in high schools. Only five other states have since passed such mandates.
During the past 30 years, the Lecture Series has focused on the Holocaust as well as other genocides including those affecting Native Americans, Armenians, Cambodians. Bosnians, Rwandans, and those in Darfur and the Sudan. The series has included scholars of national and international reknown focusing on the need for both education and action to prevent future genocides.
As social psychologist James Waller states so soberly during his annual lecture in the Lecture Series, more died in the 20th century genocides than all other wars combine. That trend will continue unless there is concerted attention and action such as the efforts of the Alliance, the Lecture Series, and the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, said Goodman.
The invitation for the event and RSVP card can be viewed at http://www.sonoma.edu/holocaust/ash/events.html.
For further information, contact Christyne Davidian, President, Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, 707-762-2995 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.