Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Honors Winners of Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest

April 23, 2018

As speaker after speaker warned that the world must “never forget” the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) honored the student winners of his Holocaust Memorial Creative Arts Contest yesterday at Kingsborough Community College.

During the ceremony, the lawmaker announced that he was able to provide $700,000 in State funds that will quadruple the size of Kingsborough’s existing Holocaust Center and create a new Intercultural and Student Center. These facilities will be accessible to the college and community for programming and research.

The ceremony featured remarks by Holocaust survivor Jehuda Lindenblatt, Kingsborough Community College Interim President Peter M. Cohen and Brooklyn College President Michelle J. Anderson. Cohen spoke about the projects made possible by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ funding and Anderson talked about Brooklyn College’s Stand Against Hate program, which sponsors events across many genres to promote understanding among diverse communities.

In commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz presented Assembly Resolutions to Cohen and Anderson as well as Marisa Hollywood, assistant director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College, which each year loans a multi-media exhibit to the ceremony. This year’s exhibit was entitled “Cruel Correspondence: Anti-Semitic Postcards 1895 – 1930.” Met Council provided a photographic display of Holocaust survivors creating pottery.

The contest attracted hundreds of entries from elementary, middle and high schools.

In his remarks, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz told the story of his late parents, Sonia and Sam, Holocaust survivors who met as children in Demblin, Poland and fell in love. Their childhood ended when the Nazis came.

“Everyone in Demblin was rounded up and put in cattle cars and sent to either concentration or slave labor camps. My mom and dad were sent to Czestocova to a slave labor camp called Warta. My mother and grandmother were in one barrack lined with bunk beds, and her father – my grandfather -- was in the men’s barracks with my father and other family members,” he said. “The night before the camp was liberated by the Russian army, my grandfather was taken away and sent to Buchenwald, never to be seen again.”

“It’s not easy to listen to these stories, but it’s very important that we continue to tell them,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “With the passage of time, there are fewer and fewer people who bore witness to the Holocaust. The survivors need all of us to carry on their mission and make sure that the Holocaust stays vivid in our hearts and minds. That’s why it’s critically important that our children learn about the Holocaust and listen to survivors’ stories whenever possible.”

The Assemblyman referenced a recent study commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which found that about 40 percent of Americans ages 18 to 35 are unaware of how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust. This, coupled with an unprecedented 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2017, underscores “just how important Holocaust education really is,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

The event featured performances by the Edward R. Murrow High School String Orchestra, Chamber Winds and Madrigal Choir. Met Council CEO David Greenfield and City Councilmembers Kalman Yeger, Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch offered greetings.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz sponsors the contest with the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, Holocaust Memorial Committee, Lena Cymbrowitz Foundation and Project Witness.