Spare Us From Petty Political Hacks: A South Florida Holocaust Center Under Siege
Peter Bober, the mayor of Hollywood, Fl., since 2008, epitomizes what the late US District Court Judge Whitman Knapp (for whom I had the great privilege of clerking) used to refer to as the Equine Theory of Life: there are far more horses’ posteriors in the world than horses. Elected after a nasty campaign against the previous mayor, Mara Giulianti, Bober, driven by his loathing for just about everything he inherited from Giulianti, seems intent on harming if not destroying the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, one of the most important institutions of its kind in the nation. Founded in 1980, the Center’s stated mission includes documenting and preserving the eyewitness testimonies of Holocaust survivors, liberators, and other eyewitnesses as well as serving as a non-denominational resource and reference for government, education, and human rights institutions, and organizations throughout the world seeking to document and study the Holocaust. Under the leadership of its president Rositta Kenigsberg, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who happens to be both a colleague and a friend of many years, the Center has been at the forefront of Holocaust remembrance for decades. It has organized major educational symposia and workshops and sponsors a speakers’ bureau of survivors who regularly address school groups across Florida and elsewhere. Kenigsberg was also instrumental in the Florida legislature’s 1994 enactment of a law mandating Holocaust education in that state, and she served for ten years as chair of Florida’s Commissioner’s Task Force on Holocaust Education.
Menachem Z. Rosensaft is vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. He teaches about the law of genocide and World War II war crimes trials at the laws schools of Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse.