January 27, 2023 at 11:56 AM
Dear CSSW Community,
On November 1, 2005, the UN designated January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day for the first time. The day is meant to honor the victims of Nazi genocide while also encouraging educational programs to remember the Holocaust and prevent future atrocities.
This year’s theme that will guide the UN’s commemoration and education efforts is, “Home and Belonging.” By bringing home and belonging to the forefront, the theme reminds us of the humanity of victims and survivors of the Holocaust – what they lost, what they endured, and how they forged on. And requires us to answer the question, “What does home and belonging mean to communities who are too often pushed to the margins?” Helen Fagin, a Holocaust survivor, has been quoted as saying, “There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts. To read a book and surrender to a story is to keep our very humanity alive.” What a beautiful statement of resilience.
We have to tell and re-tell the stories of the victims and survivors, both to honor them, and to remind ourselves of what we owe one another (and what must never be taken). Storytelling can also be a path to healing. Ann Burack Weiss, a noted author and CSSW alum, has co-edited a book entitled Narrative in Social Work Practice (http://cup.columbia.edu/book/narrative-in-social-work-practice/9780231173612) . It’s a beautiful book with contributions from many social workers, describing how they have used narrative techniques as a means of self-discovery.
The beginnings of the Holocaust were characterized by hate speech and disinformation that led to violence on an ever-increasing scale. Sadly, we are seeing antisemitic speech and violence on the upswing again in our country. It is our responsibility to acknowledge and condemn these heinous acts in an effort to build a more just society. We are committed to educating our community about the Holocaust and antisemitism, and are planning events as well as reviewing our curriculum to ensure that these topics are addressed in a thoughtful and meaningful way. There is much work to do, and we’re determined to do it.
Dean & Professor
Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment, & Community Engagement