Volunteer of the Week Linda Suss: Educator at The Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education

By Barry Warner

Volunteer educator Linda Suss provides Holocaust Museum tours and teaches classes to students ranging from Middle School to College. She focuses her teaching on the perils of intolerance and the need for empathy among people.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, which took place on Monday April 24, 2017 commemorated the 6 million Jews who perished along with other victims targeted by Hitler and the Nazis, plus the heroism of the survivors and rescuers. The mission of the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education at Rockland Community College is to educate, examine and explore the lessons of the Holocaust with authenticity, dignity and compassion. Old and young alike learn from these lessons to create a society of mutual respect and understanding devoid of hatred of the past.

Executive Director Andrea Myer-Winograd told The Rockland County Times, “When I think of Linda Suss, long term volunteer educator of the Holocaust Museum, I think of an emerald diamond…elegant, classic and radiant, with an understated sparkle in every direction. The Museum identifies Linda as one of the finest champions of the Holocaust and human rights education. She tirelessly educates students and the community through holocaust/genocide education. This education that she delivers is inclusive of Anti-Semitism prevention, prejudice and bias reduction plus the dangers of hate in any form. Her lesson plans inspire critical thought and personal growth.”

“We recognize Linda for teaching our youth to be upstanding citizens and how one person can make a difference in our world. Recognizing Linda for her dedication to education is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the generosity of her heart every day. She is humble and unassuming, as she is not looking for accolades or wanting a pat on her back. She is passionate about her cause and has made a grand impact at The Museum and our community for over 10 years. Her outstanding efforts include helping others, giving without asking for anything in return and the sense of pride of making another person’s day a little bit brighter” said Myer-Winograd.

“As a volunteer educator, I give Museum tours and teach classes to students ranging from Middle School through College. These classes are taught both at the Museum and in our outreach program, where we go to area schools. Often I find myself teaching about the Holocaust to students who previously knew little or nothing about it. It’s remarkable to watch the transformation in these young people as they learn about the Holocaust for the first time by listening to the testimonies of the few remaining survivors and liberators” said Linda Suss. “Our goal is not only to teach what happened during the Holocaust, but to whom and why. We try to be more than just a history class. We focus on what lessons can be learned from the Holocaust and how we can bring those lessons and experiences into our daily lives. We teach about the perils of intolerance, of blind hatreds and the need for empathy among people. We teach the students about those heroic people, or righteous resisters, who through the darkest of times risked all to save the lives of people they did not even know. The students learn about our responsibilities as individuals to reject hatred, both in action and words and to seek tolerance and understanding with those who may be different than us. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to hopefully, make a small difference. I believe that small differences can add up.”

According to the website www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org, at a time of complete moral failure, there existed a number of individuals or ‘righteous resisters’ who chose at great personal risk to them and their families, to uphold human values and save Jews:

. Oskar Schindler created an oasis of humanity to save thousands of Polish Jews by shielding them as workers in his factories. He ensured that as they worked, all were fed and no one was beaten or killed.

. In 1942, Hitler and the Nazis built the Warsaw Ghetto and herded 500,000 Polish Jews behind its walls to await liquidation. Irena Sendler, a health worker, saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them.

. Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who helped save thousands of Hungarian Jews. He provided special Swedish passports and also set up a bureaucracy in Budapest designed to protect Jews by using ‘safe houses’ where they could receive food and medical supplies. More than 90,000 Budapest Jews were deported to death camps, while Wallenberg’s efforts may have saved an equal number.

For additional information about the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education access www.holocauststudies.org or call 845-574-4099.