SCRANTON, Pa. — The attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend allegedly carried out by a man who spread hate-filled anti-Semitic remarks online has been hard to handle for the organizers of an annual event in Scranton.
The event is one of the largest gatherings of Holocaust survivors on the east coast.
Ruth Hartz was a hidden child of the Holocaust. For the past several years, she’s brought her story to Scranton for the Jewish Federation’s annual Holocaust symposium.
The symposium has been held each May for 30 years in Scranton and features at least a dozen Holocaust survivors who speak to hundreds of high school students.
“You often wonder, does it do any good? But I think it does,” Hartz said.
Hartz admits she’s feeling weary in her goal of dispelling hatred after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend during which 11 people worshipping in a Sabbath service were killed.
After a lifetime of combating anti-Semitism, Hartz has noticed a rise in recent years.
“That’s one of the reasons I devote my life to it now, and I hope it does some good. On the other hand, I’m not surprised that events like that happen. It will never go away, and anti-Semitism has been with us for 2,000 years. It’s all over Europe now. It’s all over the rest of the world.”
Organizers of the annual Holocaust symposium say they’re even more resolved to bring survivors’ stories to Scranton this year. They plan to talk to teachers about how to extend Holocaust education into the classroom.
“The rise of anti-Semitism in this country is alarming. I also just read a statistic that 45 percent of Americans can’t even name a single concentration camp. That’s just 70, a little bit more than 70 years ago,” said Susie Blum Connors.
The Holocaust symposium is scheduled for May 2019.