**This Blog post was written by our two summer Federation Interns: Gabby Blum and Emma Aaronson**
As a Jewish child I was taught about the horrific events that occurred during the Holocaust. It was very impactful when I was constantly faced with stories and photos about one of the most infamous events in our history. At the age of 10, I visited the horrific Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. This left a lasting impression on my life. During my visit, I learned a great deal about the more than six million innocent Jews who were murdered.
Now, as I drive through the Los Angeles metropolitan area, I try to visualize what it would be like if everyone from Santa Clarita to Orange County and Santa Monica to Riverside was murdered, and it remains too vast a number for me to imagine. But a number I can imagine is 64. That is the number of my relatives, my ancestors, my blood-kin that were murdered by the Nazis. Plus the Nazis eliminated all their offspring, my cousins, that will never be born and I will never get to meet. I have learned why I have such a small family of extended relatives…the Nazis wiped out most of my family in their genocide.
The Holocaust has caused a lasting impact on generations of Jews. When considering lost offspring, hundreds of millions of Jewish lives have been lost because of the Holocaust. The surviving Jewish generations face an emotional impact that has caused teens such as me and Emma to want to make a change. I know society has a short memory and therefore I must stand vigilant against current and future genocides. Today, there are still genocides and mass atrocities that affect millions of people. That is why it so important to take a stand to make a change.
Jewish World Watch works to fight current day genocides and mass atrocities that are similar to the Holocaust. I want to help stop the suffering of generations and generations of people. People in small and large populations face their own present day horrors. Through my work at the organization, I have found Jewish World Watch has become a very meaningful part of my life.
Like Gabby, I was taught that it is my responsibility as a Jew to ensure that the world never forgets the despicable genocide that took the lives of so many. Yet, it seems so many of us have forgotten the lesson of the Shoah because at this very moment, millions are dying due to conflicts and mass atrocities.
We recently lost one of the most influential advocates for prevention of mass atrocities of our time. Elie Wiesel worked to prevent genocide so no one has to endure what he did. He once said, “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.” I’m not sure that I understood the importance of these words until my work as an intern for JWW. I am honored to say that I spent a month trying to help make a difference in the lives of those on the ground, and trying to discover ways to prevent mass atrocities from occurring again.
We met with Representative Karen Bass, and discussed ways the government can help Jewish World Watch’s fight. We made an informative video that will help make these issues more accessible to the general public, and we have created a leadership program for teenagers so they can learn about these atrocities, how they can get involved, and how they can take action to make a difference. The goal of Jewish World Watch is greater than any one person can accomplish, but if we work together as a community of those who strive to make a difference, change is possible.
The mission of Jewish World Watch is one that every Jew should be invested in. As Elie Wiesel said, the center of our universe at the moment should be the areas where men and women are being persecuted for their race, or beliefs; and the aim of JWW is to ensure that his words ring true.
**Both Emma and Gabby will continue their work with JWW through our new Teen Ambassador Program, which they helped to create. We are so happy they chose to spend their summer with JWW, and look forward to working with them throughout the year.**