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AZ Jewish Historical Society working to open Holocaust education center in Phoenix

By Kirsten Dorman
Published: Monday, January 16, 2023 - 1:23pm

a digital model for the Arizona Jewish Historical Society
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The Arizona Jewish Historical Society is raising funds to build and run a Holocaust learning center.

A measure that requires Arizona students to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice between seventh grade and high school graduation was signed into law over a year ago. Now, the Arizona Jewish Historical Society is working to open a new Holocaust education center in Phoenix by 2025. They say their aim is to build on that law’s progress and to combat rising antisemitism.

Executive director Lawrence Bell said the center will be for everyone, but their goal is to focus even more on reaching younger people.

“Increasingly, awareness of WWII is fading among [the] younger generation and especially awareness of the Holocaust,” he said.

To engage them, Bell said the center will take advantage of newer technologies like virtual reality and a 2D hologram of a local Holocaust survivor, Oskar Knoblauch. Bell said the center will emphasize stories like his.

“These are people that live in the same neighborhoods [where] they live, that could have been their neighbors, had they been born in a different time,” Bell said.

Bell said he hopes the center will reach people of all ages, and that adding a physical space to the Society’s existing programs will help do that. Creating that space is important, he said, and worth the effort.

“Phoenix is the largest metro area that does not have a center doing something like this,” Bell said. “And it’s just exciting to be able to create that.”

Arizona History