Today, I want to share with you my personal health story. A few weeks ago I suffered a minor heart attack and other ailments which have kept me in the hospital to this day. My 88-year-old body isn’t matching with my (much) more youthful mind.
What’s on my mind these days?
Laying in this sterile room with machines beeping, it isn’t ailing health I fear. It isn’t death. It’s being forgotten. I’m not simply referring to myself. I’m talking about the six million souls whose lives were lost in the Holocaust. About them being forgotten. About me being forgotten. About those words I have spoken for decades, the words of Elie Wiesel, the words of other Survivors … all of their words being forgotten, too.
I founded ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance Foundation to help ensure future generations would know our stories and honor our lives. So, we would remember and not develop amnesia regarding the atrocities, the suffering, the hate, which once ruled the world.
And, yet … today it seems we are on that terrifying path.
As I sit here, hooked up to monitors, my heart quickens with the fear that the younger generations, and those still to come, will not know my words, my fight, my message. It is ZACHOR’s goal to educate our children, and to provide the teachings and tools to schools and other outlets about the Holocaust. The classroom is the ideal setting for the impressionable young minds.
The Holocaust is not a mandatory subject/area of coverage in most states across the nation – at most they leave it up to individual teachers to determine if the Holocaust is a part of their curriculum. But, I question how will the youth know about what happened? How will we be able to share our stories and make sure they are passed on to others? How will we be able to prevent something like this from happening again?
I made a vow when I started ZACHOR that our dear departed ones, crying out to the world to remember, would actually be remembered. Sadly, school systems throughout the nation are not making this a priority. So long as I live and breathe, and other Survivors live and breathe, I would think school districts everywhere would want us to visit. To share our stories. To spread our messages.
We are here. We are willing. And nothing happens.
While we are here, let us speak. Let us tell the future generations about the time the world went mad, and what we can do to make sure it never happens again. It’s our history, and one which must be told. We cannot allow people to forget.
Why limit our speaking engagements to single classrooms? Why not open it up to entire districts and make it an evening about our history and meeting those who have survived?
It is our job as parents to make sure our children live long, happy, healthy lives. To provide them the opportunities we didn’t necessarily have. But, in order to provide those opportunities, it is my opinion that we need to teach our children values and good morals focusing on respect and tolerance for all.
There is a lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, and every living child should know what happened — and why it happened.
I am a survivor of the Holocaust and my words have power. Influence. They can help steer children towards the lives we imagine for them.
I will be back up soon. In the meantime, please, help me as I recover. Talk to your school districts. Talk to your teachers. Invite them to help create a world where our past is known as we take steps towards a future that is hate-free.
My one wish in life is that we remember … ZACHOR.
Please note: I will be taking a bit of a break while I recover. In the coming weeks, be on the look out for excerpts of passages from my book as a part of my road to recovery. To learn more about me and my history, please be sure to read my autobiography, “Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare To American Dream.”
To learn more about Ben Lesser, ZACHOR or our youth campaign to stop intolerance please visit: