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Q&A with the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida

Sign reading: Holocaust in History. Woman standing and looking at exhibit.

Did you know that May is Jewish American Heritage Month? It is a time to honor and pay tribute to Jewish Americans who have contributed to the rich history of this country. A history that must be remembered. To learn more, we reached out to Talli Dippold, CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, for her insight on this important and historical resource. You can visit the Holocaust Center through the library’s Local Wanderer culture pass program.

The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida opened its doors in 1986. Could you tell us about its history?

The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center started as the Holocaust Project of Valencia Community College in 1981 by Tess Wise, a local Holocaust Survivor from Poland. Tess believed that by studying the historical, social, moral and ethical lessons of the Holocaust, history would never be allowed to repeat itself. In 1982 the Holocaust Project leadership changed its name and moved from Valencia’s campus to offices in the Jewish Community Center in Maitland. In 1983 we became an independent 501(c)(3) organization with the Rev. Dr. Earl Scarbeary as our first president. I served as the volunteer executive director, a position I held for more than 20 years. In 1986, we opened the doors to our current Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, the first Holocaust museum in the Southeast, predating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. by 7 years.

In 1994 the state legislature mandated that Holocaust education must be taught in Florida public schools. As a partner of the Florida Department of Education’s Task Force on Holocaust Education, it is our responsibility to provide educational resources to a 13-county area, including instructional materials, best practices and professional development. During the 2018–19 school year over 25,000 students from area public and private schools and home school groups visited the Holocaust Center or participated in an in-school presentation by a member of the Center’s education team.

Why do you feel the mission of the center is so important to our community?

Our mission it to use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to build a just and caring community free of antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry. Through our extensive outreach of educational and cultural programs and exhibits, we use the lessons of the Holocaust as a tool. We teach the principles of good citizenship to thousands of people of all ages, religions, races, sexual orientations, abilities and backgrounds each year.

Now Open: Basic Judaism. Special Exhibition, Through May 25, 2024.

What can readers visiting the center expect?

When you step into the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida, you’re taking a journey that merges the history of the Holocaust with innovative techniques for preserving the memory and legacy for future generations to learn from. In addition to the engaging technology and personal narratives, guests at our center encounter a range of artifacts that tell the story of the Holocaust in a deeply tangible way. Each artifact – a letter, a photograph, a personal item – serves as a bridge to the past, providing a tangible connection to the individuals and communities affected. Our aim is for guests to leave not just moved by the stories of survival and spirit but also empowered with a sense of responsibility to counteract hate and promote human dignity. Through these interactive and immersive experiences, we hope to inspire a commitment to a more compassionate and just world, honoring the legacy of those we remember by fostering understanding and action in the present.

How can readers get involved?

Join us at the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida to make a lasting impact. Whether through volunteering, participating in our educational programs or supporting our mission with a donation, your involvement helps preserve the memory and legacy of the Holocaust for future generations. Together, we can foster a community of understanding and action against hate. Get involved today and be part of creating a more just and compassionate world.

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Memorial Day Closing

Orange County Library System will be closed Sunday, May 26 and Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day. The library system will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, May 28. View a complete list of holiday closures >