ESU Global Week: Remembering the Past

Jeanette Friedman discussed the importance of being an active citizen. Photo Credit / Jacqueline Herbert Jeanette Friedman discussed the importance of being an active citizen. Photo Credit / Jacqueline Herbert

By Edita Bardhi
Opinion Editor

As part of ESU’ s Global Week, Jeanette Friedman, a Holocaust education activist, came to speak at ESU on Sunday, April 2nd at 6 p.m.

Her speech was titled, “The Holocaust: Why Does It Matter?”

During the course of her speech, Friedman provided ESU students and faculty members with an answer to this question.

Initially, as a Holocaust survivor herself, she spent the first half of her speech educating the audience with a clear image of the Holocaust.

As she presented photographs of family members, she discussed the several endangerments her parents had to face and the sacrifices they made for their marriage and their children.

The photographs shown included her great-grandmother, her grandfather, her grandmother, her mother and her uncle.

Additionally, she shown images of her family gathering around to hear stories and lessons about the Holocaust.

“It was not easy for them to be successful. They worked really hard on it. But they also became very involved in their community,” said Friedman.

Yet, the moral of her speech revolved around today’s standards: children’ s education, job wages, respect, precedency, taxes and more.

Friedman shared, “If you are going to live in America, you need to know what is going on because things can change in a heartbeat. You have to be aware of who is getting elected for what and what they are doing in order to protect yourself,” a statement given to her by her father. Since then, Friedman has been researching information, making phone calls, publishing articles and voicing her opinion on the various subjects listed above. Throughout her speech, Friedman repeatedly said the words,“Because never again means never again, and not just for Jews, but for everybody.” “I learned that freedom is not a right. After watching 30 genocides after the Holocaust, I learned that freedom is a privilege. And how democracy becomes stale is by people not becoming informed voters and not caring about their neighbors,” said Friedman.

With much enthusiasm, Friedman discussed how important it is for people, as citizens, to make their voices heard. “Freedom is a privilege. You earn it by voting,” said Friedman.

She continued, “If you don’t vote, the people in charge of the country are going to tell you, ‘you and your neighbors aren’t worthy of health care unless you pay for it. You are not entitled for retirement pensions. You have to go through everything on your own.’”

Additionally, Friedman told the audience that voting in president elections is not enough. Instead, people should be voting in their state elections, and more.

“The president is the weakest person in the government. The most powerful people in the government are the speaker of the house and the head of the senate,” said Friedman.

On behalf of all college students, Fernando Alcantar, director of Student Engagement, responded.

“I work with millennials. They are the most actively engaged in U.S. history; nonetheless, they are the least politically active. I see both sides, but I see that the world they live in, there is so much going on. Between media, they are the most pressured,” he said.

He continued, “The reason why I think they just focus on the president is because that is one guy. If they focus on the Speaker of the House, if they focus on the Supreme Court, if they focus on the state senator, if they focus on the school board then that takes away time that they need to observe and from all the other things that they need to do.”

All in all, clean air and water; healthy foods and environments; good houses and educations and more come from people being educated on situations, along with fighting for the greater-good.

For further information on the importance of the Holocaust, read “Why Should I Care? Lessons from the Holocaust,” written by Jeanette Friedman and David Gold. Otherwise, visit

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