Volunteers finish Holocaust Resource Center reorganization

The Women’s Philanthropy division of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley has completed its mitzvah project to reorganize the Holocaust Resource Center in the JCC.

It’s a well-known story by now that during the pandemic, many people used their time in isolation to clean out their homes. When Jewish community members did that, many found books, videos and other items related to the Holocaust.

Wanting to share those resources with the public, to preserve them and so they could be used for educational purposes, members dropped them off at the Holocaust Resource Center, located on the lower level of the JCC. Donations started to pile up to the point where the facility was unusable as a resource or education center.

Reorganization project chairs stepped in Fay Kun, Ilene Ringold and Miriam Zager, along with Lee Solomon, the Federation’s associate director of development, and Shari Spark, HRC coordinator, to oversee volunteers cleaning up and sorting through the center’s reference materials and other resources and putting them in a more usable order.

The project lasted four months and brought volunteers together for several cleanup sessions through the end of March to complete the task. They came to help advance the HRC’s overall mission to preserve primary sources and to educate. Specific personal reasons were as varied as the volunteers. “The current rise of antisemitism has moved me to want to make this an organized, user-friendly and inviting place for educators to bring their students and for anyone to use as a resource,” said Zager.

With a collection of over 1,000 books, visual and audio media, curricula, artifacts and art related to the Holocaust, as well as to antisemitism, hate crimes, genocide and overcoming oppression, the center is available to assist both the Jewish community and the community at large. Most of its materials may be checked out free of charge.

Another resource available to the greater community is the HRC Legacy Exhibit, which travels to about a dozen schools in the region each year. Featuring a Holocaust timeline, museum-quality artifacts, original photographs, speakers and more, the exhibit supplements school programs on World War II. To find out about bringing the exhibit to your school, contact Marylou Lordi at mllordi@yahoo.com or 908-512-0490.

For the facility itself and for the traveling exhibit, the HRC reorganization has been a critical improvement that will bring benefits for years to come. As Gia Jones, chair of PJ Library, said during one of the cleanup sessions, “It’s a nice way to honor our past and our heritage, and have a place for our youth, our community, to come and learn.”