When I began my tenure as President/CEO of the Museum on Jan. 1, I started thinking immediately about how to best approach my friends to become Museum members if they weren’t already. I thought long and hard about this because I would never want to ask my friends to do something just for me, that didn’t have value for the community.
So I began an earnest effort to observe, listen and experience the Museum—just as a visitor might.
I observed visits by several school groups who listened intently to our local Survivors about what they experienced and how the Holocaust forever changed them personally—stories that I could tell deeply impacted the young listeners.
I attended a couple of docent training sessions and witnessed the dedication of 32 adults from different stages and walks of life who were committed to telling the Museum’s story and to connecting with the students whom they would steward through one of history’s most tragic events.
And, I met with members of the Museum Board leadership and with Survivors to better understand their expectations and goals—deeply enriching and informative sessions that brought me a new and deeper level of clarity about the Museum’s mission.
After these experiences, I realized that I would have no problem asking my friends to join the Museum family to educate the youth and adults of North Texas, Oklahoma and beyond who visit the Museum, not only about the Holocaust, but also about the peril of prejudice and bigotry.
The study of the Holocaust leads students and all of us to consider basic moral and ethical issues that are at the heart of many issues facing society today. In Doris Bergen’s book, War & Genocide, A Concise History of the Holocaust (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2nd edition, 2009), the author tells us, “Prejudices are habits of thought; they are not reasoned responses to objective realities…they are attitudes based on imaginings about people rather than on who those people really were.”
Reading Ms. Bergen’s book, I ask myself, “How common is it for all of us to succumb to the convenience of prejudice in our daily lives?” It takes much more intellectual energy to challenge a prejudice than it does to mindlessly accept it.
If the students who visit our Museum leave with some understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping and contemplate the equal danger of silence, apathy and indifference when they are confronted with prejudice on a daily basis, the cost of membership is one of the best investments you could make in our community.
If you are not already a member of the Museum, please consider joining today. Help us reach more students this year. I can personally assure you: this is important work that you will be proud to support.