Whitman speaks at RVCC luncheon on making a difference, education
My Central Jersey (Home News Tribune and Courier News)
April 24, 2009

Christine Todd Whitman asked an audience Friday at Raritan Valley Community College to think about the friends in the room, the beautiful spring day and the fresh air outside.

On a day like Friday, the former New Jersey governor said, it may be hard to believe that evil still exists in the world and that genocidal horrors similar to those in the Holocaust have been repeated across the globe in areas such as Rwanda and Darfur.

“As lucky as we are to live here … to be protected as we are protected, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot stand back,” she said. “We must be involved.”

On a day when the community college hosted its annual Make A Difference Award luncheon — and celebrated the 10th anniversary of RVCC’s Holocaust and Genocide Resource Room and the Morris and Dorothy Hirsch Research Library of Holocaust and Genocide Studies — themes of rememberance, involvement and education were emphasized.

The program, sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies — a joint project between RVCC and the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren counties — was held in the college’s Conference Center.

Organizers also said the event coincided with the completion of the annual three-day Learning Through Experience program. Workshops, which are attended by more than 3,000 middle- and high-school students and their teachers, feature Holocaust and genocide survivors, their rescuers and liberators.

RVCC yesterday also honored three local Holocaust survivors: Maud Dahme of Flemington, Tova Friedman of Highland Park and Ursula Pawel of Bedminster. In a statement, school officials said the Make A Difference Award “recognizes those who, through their actions, promote tolerance and understanding in the community and who embody the values of teaching tolerance and diversity.”

Friedman said at age 12 she turned down an offer by a doctor to remove a tattooed serial number she received during the Holocaust. Although the doctor said removing the marking would make her experience “easier to forget,” Friedman said she wanted to keep the tattoo and sound the alarm on cruelty, hatred and prejudice.

“Do what you can in every possible way to make this world a little better than when you found it,” she said.

Dahme, a member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, told those in attendance that there’s a lesson to be learned from a box of Crayons. Some are sharp, some are dull and others have weird names, she said. But “they all exist very nicely in the same box.”

The award program — which also recognized students in an art and writing competition based on “Rescue and Resistance During the Holocaust,” the title of the three-day workshop — featured the premier of the film “The Second Generation: Sharing Our Legacy.” The documentary was produced by Harry Hillard, an RVCC film professor, and directed by Peppy Margolis, the college’s director of cultural outreach.