KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Leaders with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education increased security during the organization’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Sunday evening.
The precaution, which included on-duty police officers, was in response to the Saturday shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 congregants were killed, and six others were injured.
“There has been an incredible rise in anti-Semitism, a 60-percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in this country in 2017,” said Jean Zeldin, the executive director of the center. “One thing we learned from the Holocaust is that when one group is targeted, we are all at risk and right now our country is at risk because of the hatred and apathy and indifference.”
Sonia Warshawski was one of an estimated 500 people who attended the event at the Starlight Theatre. The 92-year-old survived the Holocaust and resettled to Kansas City in 1948.
“I would never dream after coming out from this hell that we would witness again such a horrible anti-Semitism [shooting],” Warshawski said.
Warshawski believes there is a lot of propaganda in the world and called it “very dangerous.” She said hate is learned but it can also be unlearned.
“We have to start from the roots, the little babies because you have to realize that they are not born with hate,” Warshawski said. “It’s put into them.”
Warshawski said if we want to move forward as a society, we must open our hearts, love and be kind to one another.
“I’m only praying and hoping that human beings will finally realize that we’re all just visiting this gorgeous world and a lot of us don’t see it,” Warshawski said.
Warshawski and Zeldin said we must learn from history and called on people to take action to prevent hate from spreading.
“There are warning signs that were there in the 20s and 30s and we need to be aware of those and not assume everything is going to blow over now,” Zeldin said.
“Remember, hate picks up faster than love, so we really have to work on that,” Warshawski added. “Don’t follow the crowd. Educate yourself. This plays a very important role.”