I am one of only fifty Jewish students at my Catholic University. At first it was very difficult being away from my family on all of the holidays, and feeling like I didn’t have a community to celebrate with. Fortunately, I have met some amazing people and have been introduced to outstanding organizations in the Milwaukee Jewish community that have welcomed me with open arms and have made me feel like I have a home away from home. I started getting involved in the Jewish Student Union at my university my freshman year, which at the time did not have a large outreach or presence on campus. Although there are not a lot of Jewish students at my school, I found that there are many people who love to learn about different faiths and cultures. I found that educating others about my Jewish faith was a true passion of mine, and I became an advocate for interfaith and intercultural programming.
This year I started as an intern at the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC), which is a program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. I came in under the assumption that the organization was one that was run by Jews and that its programming and outreach was marketed for Jews. I soon learned that the staff is very diverse and comes from many different backgrounds, and that the educational programming is in fact focused on all members of the community, especially those who do not have any background knowledge on the Holocaust. This realization resonated with me, as I have been an advocate for interfaith and intercultural educational programming intended for a diverse group of people. At one of HERC’s most highly attended annual events, the Kristallnacht Commemoration, I was truly impressed and inspired by the twelve faith leaders from different Milwaukee communities and the local students who shared their prayers, poems, and artwork in remembrance of a day of violence and intolerance in order to take a stand against racism and bigotry. This event and all of the work I have done with the Holocaust Education Resource Center has given me hope that through education and kindness between diverse communities, we can live in a society that is more tolerant and understanding, and one that celebrates both our similarities and our differences.
– Anna Goldstein, Marquette University