Speaking Tuesday to a group of seniors and Holocaust survivors at the Brookdale Senior Center on Avenue H, Joe Lazar expressed his growing concern that young people throughout the community are not receiving adequate education about the Holocaust.
“As Holocaust survivors age and pass away, the danger of forgetting this singularly important event in our history becomes frighteningly more real,” warned Council candidate Joe Lazar, who was born in a DP Camp in Germany and lost two brothers and a sister to the horrors of Auschwitz. “Over 60 years later, many of our young people do not understand why the Holocaust is such an essential part of our lives and why it is a lesson everyone must learn from in order to protect the world from anti-Semitism and fascism in the future.”
Lazar lamented to the audience that anti-Semitism and the denial of the Holocaust is on the rise even in Brooklyn, which has suffered a string of atrocious hate crimes targeting Jews in the past year. “Recently, I joined Councilman Brad Lander in a press conference to denounce the recent anti-Semitic hate crimes perpetrated in Brooklyn Heights,” explained Lazar. “These vicious acts of vandalism serve as a powerful reminder that the hatred that spawned the Holocaust is still very much alive and just as dangerous as ever. Of course, our young people must learn about the Holocaust to honor our elders and our culture, but, just as importantly, they must learn about the Holocaust to protect our community for many, many generations to come.”
Lazar promised the crowd at Brookdale that as their Councilman he would make it a priority to ensure that government and grant money was secured and allocated for greater Holocaust education in both the Yeshivos and public schools. He explained that his expertise in nonprofits and government budgets would enable him to find the funding to support Holocaust education programs even in this time of fiscal crisis.
Lazar has made Holocaust Remembrance a focal point of his life. In 2005, Lazar was responsible for helping the Borough Park non-profit organization Nachas Healthnet obtain a $1.2 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services for “addressing the need of holocaust survivors and their older adult children”. The grant signified the first time that any government in the world acknowledged that there was a second generation that suffers emotionally due to the horrors of the Holocaust.
In 2008, Lazar co-organized an event together with his two sons and Nachas that brought together over 1,000 Holocaust survivors to mark the Day of Remembrance. In his emotional speech as master of ceremonies of the event, Lazar recounted his family’s horrific ordeal in Auschwitz at the hands of Josef Mengele, and vowed to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust by assuring that their suffering and heroism would never be forgotten. Said Lazar, “I grew up remembering, and I have taught my children to remember, and they are teaching their children to remember.”