Press Release: HHRC Celebrates 35th Anniversary

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 23, 2020

CONTACTS:

Shenna Bellows, Executive Director

shenna@hhrcmaine.org

(207) 776-5404

Marpheen Chann, Development & Communications Associate

marpheen@hhrcmaine.org

(207) 245-2173

The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine Celebrates 35 Years of Holocaust and Human Rights Education

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) today is celebrating thirty-five years of Holocaust and human rights education and programming for Maine students, teachers and community members. 

The HHRC was founded on April 23, 1985, when a group of Holocaust survivors, their families and allies gathered at the Blaine House to commemorate Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Following the ceremony, Holocaust survivor Gerda Haas then led the group to file the necessary papers for a non-profit. 

Thirty-five years later, the HHRC has a permanent home at the Michael Klahr Center located on the University of Maine at Augusta campus and continues to provide educational Holocaust and human rights progamming through exhibits, events, in-school programming and, now, through online education. 

This week, the HHRC kicked off its online Holocaust and human rights education program for students and teachers on Yom HaShoah with a virtual workshop about the Holocaust titled “Decision Making In Times of Injustice” for students and teachers from Lewiston, Maranacook and Messalonskee.  

“We know that racism, anti-Semitism and hate are viruses too and that pandemics bring out the worst in some people even as they bring out the best in most of us. Given our extraordinary mission, history and resources, the HHRC has the unique power to stand up against hate by providing public, online tools to inspire and educate people to advance equity and inclusion,” HHRC Executive Director Shenna Bellows said. “Bringing Holocaust and human rights education directly to Maine students, teachers and community members where they are is of critical importance in a world that is relying more and more on technology and online learning,”

The HHRC started its weeklong commemoration of Yom HaShoah and its 35th anniversary with a virtual Yom HaShoah remembrance ceremony Sunday evening, hosting over 100 members of the public for reflections by the children of Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Erica Asch of Temple Beth El and HHRC staff and board.

“We have a moral responsibility now and forever to never forget, to work toward never again and to do everything we can to confront prejudice, discrimination and intolerance, said Bellows. “Despite the pandemic and school closures, the HHRC is committed to carrying on the legacy of our founders to ensure that the stories and lessons shared by Holocaust survivors are remembered and shared.”

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