Holocaust Museum LA’s Beth Kean joins state council

| December 1, 2022 | 0 Comments

HOLOCAUST MUSEUM LA CEO Beth Kean was named to the Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education.

In spite of a rise in antisemitism, Holocaust Museum LA (HMLA) CEO Beth Kean is hopeful that positive change is coming.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” Kean said last month after being selected to join the governor-appointed Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education.

Launched last year, the Council is tasked with providing tools to recognize and respond to bigotry and discrimination on school campuses, including disturbing images such as swastikas and hateful remarks and slogans.

While Holocaust education is mandated in California schools, it lacks standards. Teachers can choose from a 30-minute outline to weeklong instruction on the Holocaust, Kean explained. Kean hopes the outcome of the Council’s work will serve as a model for schools around the country. (Only 15 states have mandatory Holocaust education in schools.)

“The Holocaust is not a Jewish story. It’s a human story,” Kean adds.

The local museum, HMLA, is about more than teaching about the horrors of Nazi Germany. “We’re about fighting hate … to stand up to all forms of hate, and, … We need to learn from our mistakes.”

Recently named to the Council were Kean and eight other academics and advocates, including Joyce Newstat, former chair of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center, and Kori Street, deputy executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation.

They join Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian, Jose Medina, James Ramos and Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, and state Sens. Scott Wiener, Connie Leyva and Susan Rubio.

“I’m so excited. I’m eager to get started, and I’m eager to make a difference,” Kean said, adding that the governor has provided needed funding for this and similar programs.

The Newsom administration has funded more than $150 million to support anti-hate programs and has designated another $115 million for the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

“An attack on any of our communities is an attack against all Californians, and our state will not stand by as the forces of hate instigate acts of violent extremism that put lives at risk,” Newsom said in an Oct. 31 release.

The Council is co-chaired by state Sen. Henry Stern, Attorney General Rob Bonta, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Anita Friedman, executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Northern California.

“I applaud Governor Newsom for not just condemning antisemitism when it’s broadcast across our freeways and social media channels, but for responding with substantive lasting solutions and the funds to realize those solutions,” said co-Chair Stern. “Whether you’re a Californian whose family suffered the death squads of El Salvador, the killing fields of Cambodia or the gas chambers of Auschwitz, students and teachers across our state share a common bond of resilience in the face of trauma.”

HMLA Expansion
HMLA recently commemorated its 60th anniversary by announcing expansion plans for its facility within Pan Pacific Park. (The museum opened there in October 2010.)

The new Jona Goldrich Campus, designed by award-winning architect Hagy Belzberg, who designed the current museum, will almost double the existing site from 28,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet. Additionally, it allows for doubling the 60,000 annual visitor capacity (pre-COVID).

While much of the existing museum is partially underground with a sloping roof to blend into the park, the new adjacent site along The Grove Drive will be 100 percent aboveground with high ceilings and natural light.

The expansion also will display an authentic railroad boxcar that transported Jews and others to death camps. The boxcar came from near the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland.

HMLA construction is scheduled to begin next year and be completed at the end of 2024, Kean said.

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Category: People

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