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Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh takes series online

In uncertain times, prejudices may take hold of otherwise rational people.

Because of this, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, along with the national coalition #TogetherWeRemember, is offering a series of free virtual events to help connect the horrors of the Holocaust with injustices of today.

The series is part of a national campaign to counter hate and “turn awareness into actionable ways for people to get involved in addressing these issues,” according to a press release. Holocaust museums, communities and schools across the country will host virtual events which will include teacher trainings, workshops and lectures throughout April.

Lauren Bairnsfather PhD, director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, explained that in times when basic needs are not being met and people are facing day-to-day challenges, racism and bigotry can surge.

“This is such a strange time and one thing we know from history, specifically from the history of antisemitism, is that when there is disease, people are looking to blame someone,” she said. “We are seeing that already with COVID-19.”

Last week, ABC news obtained and released an FBI analysis warning of a potential surge in discriminatory attacks against Asian-Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bairnsfather described a “perfect storm” of sudden social and economic change, hate groups thriving online, and people staying home, consuming even more digital information and entertainment.

However, to Bairnsfather, the center’s digital series with #TogetherWeRemember is an opportunity to counter that.

“That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about the online programming we are offering,” she said. “We want to put out this positive program to offer awareness on information that is false and dangerous.”

Originally, the event was to be a day-long summit hosted in downtown Pittsburgh, followed by vigils in cities across the country. The center explained that while it became clear that the summit could not be held as initially imagined following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, cancellation was never an option.

“The haters and deniers won’t rest, and neither will we,” David Estrin said in a press release. Estrin is the grandson of four Holocaust survivors and founder of #TogetherWeRemember.

“The coronavirus may keep us apart physically, but it will not stop us from coming together virtually.”

April is dedicated to genocide awareness, due to many genocides of the 20th century having begun or had their worst moments during the month, according to Bairnsfather. Notably, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on April 19, 1943.

“Memory can be empowering,” she said. “We can take memory and turn it into action.”

If you go…

What: Virtual Summit: What Does “Never Again” Mean to You?

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 5

Where: https://togetherweremember.org/events

Details: The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s next event will be an interactive, action-oriented vigil program featuring dynamic speakers with inspiring stories. The program will begin with a name-reading ceremony honoring victims, survivors and upstanders to identity-based violence and conclude with a powerful town-hall style dialogue on the meaning of “never again” and ways one can take action to make it a reality.

What: Yom HaShoah 2020: 75 Years Since Liberation

When: 12 to 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, April 21

Where: https://hcofpgh.org/covid-19/

Details: The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh will honor local liberators and their families on the 75th year since the Allied powers liberated the concentration camps of Europe. Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the day set aside to remember the approximately six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust

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