Saturday, March 24th | 8 Nisan 5778


Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

August 23, 2016 2:40 pm

Third-Generation Survivor: Holocaust Becoming Increasingly Irrelevant Among Young Americans (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Email a copy of "Third-Generation Survivor: Holocaust Becoming Increasingly Irrelevant Among Young Americans (INTERVIEW)" to a friend
Third-generation Holocaust survivor and Harvard law student Jennie Shulkin. Photo: Courtesy.

Third-generation Holocaust survivor and Harvard law student Jennie Shulkin. Photo: Courtesy.

For many young Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike, the Holocaust is becoming increasingly irrelevant, a Harvard law student and granddaughter of a survivor told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

Jennie Shulkin, 23, warned that the Holocaust was “fading into the background” among her age cohort.

Shulkin, whose 93-year-old grandfather fled Nazi Germany, said, “There are even many Jews who are so liberal that they focus on other genocides. Obviously, current genocides need exposure and help is necessary from people all over the world, but I think that those sort of then step in front of Holocaust remembrance.”

On Sunday, in an op-ed in the Huffington Post, Shulkin highlighted the role she believes that she and other third-generation survivors must play to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive:

…[W]e should feel pride in our Jewish identity, the continued strength of the Jewish people in Israel and around the globe, and our unique privilege to pass on the legacy and memories of our families’ pasts. Make the past part of our present, and it will live on in the future.

Shulkin told The Algemeiner she was motivated to write the article by her own family’s history and the recent death of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

“I met him once at a conference in a very small group setting, and he was as inspiring as you can imagine,” Shulkin said of Wiesel.

Jennie Shulkin with the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. Photo: Courtesy.

Jennie Shulkin with the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. Photo: Courtesy.

Passionate about Israel, Shulkin took part in the Birthright program, both as a participant and a group leader. Reflecting on visits to Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, she remarked, “I think Birthright does a great job at keeping the Holocaust relevant and exposing people to the Holocaust who maybe have no family history and have no previous exposure.”

Having studied at Tel Aviv University, Shulkin said she sees the memory of the Holocaust to be more strongly alive in Israel than in the US. “It is prominent every day in a way there that it’s really not here,” she said.

If Israel had existed before the Holocaust, Shulkin added, “a lot of people maybe would have been able to get out of Europe more easily and be saved from what happened there.”

Though Shulkin said her strong feelings for the Jewish state are not necessarily the norm among her peers, she continues to believe that “most Jews my age do feel at least a mild connection, especially the ones who have gone on Birthright or visited Israel with some other program.”

“There are a lot of Jews who are very liberal and tend to sympathize more with the Palestinians in terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But I think that the most dangerous thing of all is the Jews who just don’t care, are completely uneducated on the subject, don’t take part in any conversations and feel it is very unconnected from their lives.”

Such Jews, Shulkin said, think that since they are in America and have religious freedom, “They don’t need to support Israel or worry about its continued existence, because they’re safe here.”

“That’s a dangerous thought for Jews anywhere in the world at any time,” she concluded. “Hopefully, of course, America stays safe forever, but like what happened in Nazi Germany and Europe, you never know when a country might turn against a certain segment of the population.”

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Liz Wagner

    It’s sad to say, but the only reason I can see for The Huffington Post publishing Shulkin’s piece was to give its readers an eyeful of just how successful the campaign to marginalize the Jewish minority in America from the community of other minorities. I say this, not to denigrate or minimize Shulkin’s concerns, but to emphasize the truth of what she says. Young Jews don’t care, and their non-Jewish friends care even less. They’re busy convincing themselves that two or three thousand Palestinians killed by Israel constitutes a genocide

    What Shulkin and other young Jews fail to grasp is that they’re being steamrolled by the rise of Third World power. In America this translates to the surrender of the entire political Left, including Liberal/”progressive” Jews, to the world vision of Black Power and New Left radicals who emerged during the 1960s, and gained entry into Third World circles by pledging loyalty to the Palestinians and devotion to the destruction of Israel and the United States. They all but run the Democratic Party today. This may sound like Marxist Revolutionary crazy talk, but that is exactly what is going on, and those of us who understand that this must be stopped as soon as possible aren’t even close to hatching a plan to do so. The Black Panthers came up with a Ten Point Plan for starting the revolution. We Jews had a Ten Point plan, and we launched a revolution a very long time ago. We should be able to do it again, but not if we continue sitting with our thumbs up our butts, too paralyzed to respond. Can we please start a sign-up sheet for the counter-revolution???

  • I think Jennie uses the word Liberal out of context. The Holocaust is studied and understood by a vast majority of those who know the rancid nature of anti-Semitism could easily become translated into anti-Christian sentiment. She stands beside Elie Wiesel and as we know:

    “..While not all ..victims of ..Nazi’s were Jews ..all Jews were victims.” Elie Wiesel.

    The tragedy thereafter has been clearly expressed by Primo Levi:

    “..if could become convinced ..Auschwitz never existed would be easier to build ..second Auschwitz .. and assurance it would devour only Jews”. Primo Levi.

    We each have a duty to ensure the memory of The Holocaust is kept alive and the best way to do that is to educate those who need to learn!

  • Jennie – No mention of you having the best legs at Maccabiah’13?!

  • I’m sorry to tell you this but the Holocaust against the Jews during WW2 did not end with the liberation of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Dachau, Buchenwald,Sachsenhausen,Mauthausen, Ravensbrück, and so many others forgotten by history.

    The ‘extinction of the Jews’ torch had been passed to the Waffen SS Muslim Handschar Divisions and the legacy of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini is alive vibrant and still at work today as we speak in 2016 and beyond.

    Husseini’s nephew was Yassir Arafat who has carried the bloodlust against the Jews into the 21st Century. One has to look no further the Hamas Charter which calls for the obliteration of Israel as Islam has obliterated others before it.

    The Story of the Holocaust does not stop with the end of WW2 and Nazi Germany but has continued in the Global Jihad Movement where another Jewish Holocaust is called for loudly and without shame.

    Now the State of Israel is targeted for destruction, we are seeing the Jews in France and greater Europe being persecuted in greater numbers that can’t be overlooked.

    In order for the Holocaust Centers around the world whose mission is to make sure the world ‘Never Forgets’ what happened during WW2 they must now begin teaching how the Holocaust mentality did not die at the end of WW2 but continues today in the world of Islamic doctrine and theology.

  • robert davis

    Jews who think they are safe in America …for ever are delusional : today the left ie socialist/communists are more and more antisemitic because they focus on economic fantasies thinking that real liberalism not that fake thing which features socialists and communists, does not provide wellfare and that communism can do it…better! Of course it’s totally wrong, communism does not breed investments + hard work which is what brings growth. They are turning American into another ussr and American jews may soon have to run awqay. Where would they go if they don’t support Israel? europe is worse.

  • problem is american jews in droves gave up traditional judaisms in favor of idolizing some J street version of ‘israel’ or ‘zionism’ ala bernie sanders, NYT, Obama, et al. the arabs didnt change and the existential israel is no idol but one of major jewish realities surviving the sho’ah and its epigenetic and political results, let alone the jewhating remnants of islam and xy and theirs. i’d say also it turned the sho’ah into a ridiculously defining reason for being or staying jewish — as if there were no judaisms before it, and none after it. well, time flies, jews stumble, and kids ancient history begins with everything before 4 years old. so neither israel nor the sho’ah in themselves will keep a kid or help a kid (or most anyone) even wanting to be jewish. for that, you need something a bit stronger more detailed and complexly engaging the mind and soul and lives than most reform judaisms seem to be delivering. you cant fix the world if youve got not you to fix it with; and if you do have one, that’s the place all religions say you begin fixing. judaism never was a ‘selfie’. or a world tinkerer. just a people, a nation, doing or trying to do what Gd wants. which is, unfortunately, not even what sanders, trump, hillary, or obama want. for all their and our in/validities.

  • Sherlock Holmes

    German Jews were the most assimilated and intermarried Jews of their day. They tended to think GTermany is my Holy Land, Berlin is my Jerusalem and Oranienburgerstrasse is my Temple. They even Reformed their Judaism to be more like German Christians. Did it help?

  • The h/o of humanity or human behavior is irrelevant because the politicians and educators want it that way. It is a way to wash out guilt from people historical memory. It goes hand in hand with the Death of ETHICS so vital to socialism and communism and others.

  • manley kiefer

    Time tends to erase memories, especially the unpleasant ones. I believe it’s important for Jews and for the world to remember the episodes of ethnic cleansing, of which the holocaust was a tragedy of mass proportions. I would think that Jews that are proud to be Jews will always honor those memories. Being in the US may seem safe and isolated from anti-Semitism but if you will look at history you will see that safety is not a guarantee anywhere for anyone. It’s all relative.

  • Sadly, many American Jews are taking their freedom for granted. Presently, America is a “safe haven” for Jews. However, there is no guarantee that America will remain a safe place for Jews. As long as the U.S. Constitution remains in effect, Jews will be safe.

  • Ephraim

    Bravo Miss Shulkin. But you made one mistake. Those Jews of which you speak are NOT liberal. There is nothing liberal about antisemitism, or bigotry of any kind. Some of them are self-haters, desperate to prove that they are ‘good’ Jews, while others are misled out of a sense of caring, and are not told the facts in the environment in which we all live.

  • sifter

    Bright girl. Astute beyond her years. Sadly, US liberals are the Fifth Son at the Seder, the apathetic one who doesn’t even bother to show up.

  • –The view that favors Palestinians over Israelis is not “liberal.”
    –There is no way to justify the claim that the Holocaust is not important or troubling to this generation of young people.

  • Yaakov

    Judaism is a faith and a way of life. That is what creates one’s identity. Otherwise, Jewish identity in and of itself is meaningless. It’s as significant as a yellow star pinned to one’s chest.

    Pride, with its connotation of superiority, is a negative trait for Jews. Jews have self-respect or self-esteem. Pride reflects a desire for self-validation. Those who follow the Jewish way of life are interested in serving Hashem, not themselves. We have to be reminded here that Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize (which, parenthetically, was also awarded to Yasser Arafat) — this is the kind of thing that is impressive to status-conscious identity Jews.

    Taking an anti-Israel perspective has nothing to do with being liberal per se. It has everything to do with not being evenhanded in one’s evaluation of the facts. People who have abandoned or rejected Judaism often attempt to fill the void within themselves with a secular political ideology that makes them feel good about themselves. To secular ideologues, whether left-wing or right-wing, their ideology tends to become a religion to them, a kind of idol worship, and they fall victim to demagogues who feed them treif. The preventive and antidote, of course, is Judaism. Not Jewish identity, but Judaism.