Several years ago, my wife and I were with friends in a mall in Miami. While we were having lunch in the food court, a man entered the food court displaying a T-shirt bearing an incredibly offensive anti-Semitic cartoon image.
I was outraged and started to confront him, expecting, at least, to tell the stranger that his shirt was offensive and hurtful. My friends, also Jewish, insisted that I not create a scene and ignore him. I did what they asked and I was wrong. The recollection of that day, my friends’ collective apathy and my acquiescence has troubled me ever since.
That day I vowed not to overlook any similar event ever again. The recollection of that day is my reminder of how easy the road of indifference is to take. It also reminds me that I, too, took the easy road that day.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has launched a major initiative, “LIGHT / HOLOCAUST & HUMANITY.” This project is designed to apply the lessons learned from the atrocities of the Holocaust and other acts of violence to our current lives. These lessons to be learned during and after this project will assist our community in preventing the growth of hate and its effects, the erosion of the cohesiveness of our community.
The three-month long initiative is created in collaboration with other leading institutions including the Holocaust Memorial, New World Symphony, the Anti Defamation League, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and of course the Ballet Austin Academy.
The Arsht Center and its partners are creating a montage of educational and artistic events focused on the protection of human rights.
The project will culminate with an emotional and gripping performance at the Arsht Center on November 3 and 4 by Ballet Austin, inspired by one woman’s stirring journey of survival and will be concluded with the Holocaust Memorial’s observation of Kristallnacht.
I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born in a basement where my family was hiding during the Nazi occupation in 1944. My personal experiences have made me keenly aware of the need for programs like the LIGHT project.
Whether a racial slur on a T-shirt, bullying in our schools or the recent horrific Sikh Temple shooting that took the lives of six people, prejudice and violence are still alive today. Despite our great strides as a nation, there is still work to be done.
In no other city is the need for tolerance and education regarding peaceful co-existence greater than in Miami. The beauty of this city lies not just in its iconic waterfront and sandy beaches but in the rich multicultural diversity of residents of greater Miami — our neighbors. Our city is home to so many ethnicities and cultures. It embraces and cultivates a unique multinational mosaic. Its openness and tolerance elevates Miami’s stature on the international stage. Now more than ever, we are one of the world’s great cities.
As a diverse city, Miami cannot “just ignore it.” The Arsht’s LIGHT project will offer vast opportunities to reflect on past and current acts of hatred, as well as developing a dialogue about how we can prevent another Holocaust from occurring again.
Whether through your participation in this initiative and/or your daily actions, I urge you to do your part, whether great or small. Quoting philosopher George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Andrew C. Hall is founding partner of Hall, Lamb and Hall, P.A. He is a member of the steering committee for LIGHT / HOLOCAUST & HUMANITY project and chair of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial.