Mayor Bill de Blasio honored Jewish Heritage at the magnificent Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan on June 11th.
The museum is a living memorial to the Holocaust that honors those who died by celebrating their lives through cherishing the traditions that they embraced, examining their achievements and faith, and affirming the vibrant worldwide Jewish community that is their legacy today. New generations are taught how to recognize and fight contemporary instances of injustice and oppression.
The Mayor proclaimed June 11th as Sigmund Rolat day. Sigmund Rolat is a Holocaust survivor who lost his parents and an older brother when the Nazi’s invaded Poland. A few days before he was about to start fourth grade, World War II began and Rolat ended up in a Nazi labor camp in Poland. By the age of fourteen, he was finally freed from the labor camp but found out that he was the sole survivor of his immediate family. Before being separated, Rolat’s brother told him to, “never forget”. These words have served as his inspiration as he built a business in America with no money and little connections.
He is a businessman, a philanthropist, and outspoken for the creation of a Polish-Jewish dialogue as well as keeping the culture alive. Rolat attends many Jewish events, including the Singer Jewish Culture Festival in Warsaw and the Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow. Below is video of the singing of the Hatikvah, the Jewish national anthem.
“I think that Sigmund has reminded us that all those who sought to defeat this community, and its culture – and to make it something that was impossible to survive – last laugh has gone to those like Sigmund who believe that they can rebuild and restore.” said Mayor de Blasio before presenting Rolat with his proclamation.
Mayor de Blasio in his speech emphasized that NYC has the second largest Jewish population of any city in the world, at a little over two million which represents around 13 percent of the population in the city. Only Tel Aviv has has more Jewish residents. The Mayor was emphatic in saying that antisemitism is very much alive in New York and in Europe. He stated that we can tolerate any hate against Jews or any other group.
Many leaders from many Jewish communities were present. Elected leaders present were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as Council Members Andy Cohen, Mark Levine, Raphael Espinal, and Chaim Deutsch.
In conjunction with Pride Month the museum has created a new set of tours within it’s Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals Exhibit with a special focus on the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust called Yellow Stars, Pink Triangles. For those interested in the exhibit, tours are conducted every Sunday in June at noon.