21 Moments of Impact in 2021: How HHC Thrived This Year

For the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, 2021 was another period of adaptation, education, and innovation. Whether it was creating a meaningful, transformative Youth Leadership Day experience for middle school students, hosting our weekly Holocaust Speakers Series via Zoom, or bringing thousands to the museum in person and virtually, HHC continued to thrive in a time of uncertainty. We couldn’t do it without the steadfast support of our constituents, donors, and volunteers. Check out 21 moments of impact we created this year:

1. HHC opened a new exhibit featuring artificial intelligence.

The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center added a new in-person exhibit to the museum at Union Terminal in January. Using specialized recording and display technologies and next-generation natural language processing, Dimensions in Testimony allows visitors to ask two-dimensional displays of Holocaust survivors questions and receive responses in real time. Dimensions in Testimony is on exhibit in only seven other museums in the world. The exhibit experience – sponsored by the Harold C. Schott Foundation – is included as part of general admission to the Holocaust & Humanity Center’s museum at Union Terminal. One museum visitor said, “It was amazing. I saw a story on 60 minutes about it and was so happy to be able to experience it. It was amazing to be able to ask questions to a Holocaust survivor. I felt like she was in the room with me. It was a very special and emotional experience of which I am very thankful.”

2. We touched hearts and minds through innovative digital programming.

HHC has hosted more than 100 digital programs, reaching tens of thousands of individuals across more than 20 countries and 30 U.S. states. We know that our programs, including the weekly Holocaust Speaker Series, have touched hearts and minds.

  • 90.4% of surveyed program attendees say they learned something new about the Holocaust from attending one of our programs. 
  • 81.8% of surveyed program attendees say they feel a responsibility to stand up to hate and antisemitism after attending a program.

3. We gave back to the community through HHC’s first Upstander Service Day.

As part of the Cincy Upstander Project, HHC led a group volunteer activity at Freestore Foodbank’s Mayerson Distribution Center in November. After learning about what it means to be an upstander and why HHC features the Freestore Foodbank in its Humanity Gallery, volunteers helped pack and organize food products for those in need. Upstander Service Days allow participants to give back to the community through a volunteer service project while meeting people of all ages and learning more about what it means to be an upstander. During the service project, we’ll teach people about being an upstander and how it ties into our mission, while working to put those lessons into action during a volunteer day.

4. We utilized technology to reach constituents across the country.

HHC staff developed robust digital and virtual offerings to reach community groups, schools, and companies that were unable to engage with our mission in person. Staff guided dozens of groups through the museum utilizing video and livestream equipment. New offerings this year included:

  • Guided Online 360-Degree Virtual Field Trip
    The guided virtual field trip takes students on a highlight tour of the museum with an HHC educator. Tours can be done over one bell and for multiple classrooms. Cost for the guided tour is $100 add a member of the Speaker Bureau for an additional $100. See curricular resources here.
  • Live Stream Field Trip
    This tour, streamed directly from the museum and led by an expert guide, allows you to experience HHC’s innovative storytelling, interactive experiences, and artifacts without leaving your school or classroom. Live stream tours are offered on Tuesday & Wednesday.

5. We expanded our team and hired an Education Outreach Manager to connect with schools.

The Holocaust & Humanity Center has grown in new ways, including adding additional staff members in 2021. HHC created a new staff position with the objective of ensuring HHC maintains its position as the leading organization for teacher training and youth engagement in Holocaust and humanity education both through the museum and programming. HHC hired Lauren Karas as its Education Outreach Manager earlier this year. In her role, she works on:

  • Raising awareness of the Holocaust and its current-day implications for a wide and diverse audience
  • Supporting teachers and school districts in utilizing the museum and survivor testimonies as teaching tools

6. HHC carried out its signature educational programs.

HHC engaged nearly 180 teachers and more than 22,000 students through virtual experiences, educational trainings, curricular resources, and field trips. HHC’s education team successfully transitioned its signature Holocaust Studies for Educators Institute to a digital format for the second year and engaged educators from across the world. This year’s Youth Leadership Day engaged students through a variety of virtual activities, inspirational speakers, and a virtual museum tour. Throughout the pandemic, our team has gained valuable learning experiences on best digital practices and meeting our constituents where they’re at. 

7. We inspired action through the Cincy Upstander Project.

The Cincy Upstander Project continues to grow. The Project aims to inspire our community to become upstanders through a city-wide art campaign, monthly programs, museum tours, and training opportunities. HHC piloted its first upstander training sessions for companies in the region, expanded its city-wide art campaign in new neighborhoods, created personalized upstander museum tours, and planned new and interactive programs for the community. In 2o22, HHC will host the inaugural Upstander Awards and the Upstander 5K Run & Walk.

8. We fought antisemitism and acts of hatred.

We created a new program called Hate at Home in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council to combat antisemitism and hate. Schools, community organizations and universities have engaged in these workshops. As part of this program, the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati hosted Hate at Home: Understanding the Rise in Violent Extremism in November. The event featured renowned speakers Dr. Arie W. Kruglanski, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and scholar studying violent extremism, and Shannon Foley Martinez, a former violent white supremacist who has two decades of experience in developing community resource platforms aimed at inoculating individuals against violence-based lifestyles and ideologies. More than 200 individuals attended in person and via Zoom and Facebook Live.

9. HHC became the convener of the Coalition Against Hate.

We also stepped up to live up to our mission of action by housing the Greater Cincinnati Coalition Against Hate. The Cincinnati Regional Coalition Against Hate (CRCAH) expanded its services and offerings by hiring a new program manager. Part of that expansion is that the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center became the convener of the CRCAH. “We are honored to take a lead in the work of the coalition, which aligns with our work of inspiring action today,” said CEO of the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center Sarah L. Weiss. “Fighting racism, antisemitism, injustice and hatred has never been as important as it is right now.”

10. We piloted a new law enforcement training program.

We piloted new training opportunities for law enforcement to learn about the role of police in Nazi Germany and reflect on their role in a democratic society today. To date, more than 50 law enforcement have trained with our staff and toured HHC’s award-winning museum.

11. HHC partnered on the Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial. 

2021 marks the 200th anniversary of Jewish community life in the city of Cincinnati, which formally began with the founding of Chestnut Street Cemetery. The Jewish community and the City of Cincinnati will commemorate this significant milestone through community celebrations, multi-generational programs and interactive experiences. HHC has been proud to partner on programs with the Jewish Cincinnati Bicentennial this year, and we look forward to new opportunities in 2022.
 

12. We engaged Young Professionals to gain their perspectives on important issues.

HHC relaunched its efforts to engage young adults in Holocaust education and awareness. The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center engages Young Professionals through events, digital programs, fundraising efforts, and its HHC Young Professionals Committee. The HHC YP Committee connects Cincinnati’s young professionals and raises funds and awareness for the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center through networking events and educational programs. The HHC YP Committee is also responsible for planning the inaugural Cincy Upstander Awards. Held in early 2022, the Cincy Upstander Awards will honor young individuals in our community who are making a difference by using their character strengths. Refer a young professional to our committee through the link here.

13. Sarah Weiss was appointed to the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has appointed Sarah L. Weiss, chief executive officer of the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, to the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission. Weiss will serve on the commission for a term beginning June 30, 2021, and ending June 29, 2024. The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center has been an early and steadfast supporter of the creation of the Holocaust and Genocide Memorial and Education Commission.

14. We were honored when bakers across the world rallied to support our mission.

Bakers from Greater Cincinnati and around the world are rallied together to fight antisemitism and support the Holocaust & Humanity Center. During the summer, “Bake a Stand: Bake to End Antisemitism,”  an international fundraiser led by professional and amateur bakers, raised more than $20,000 for HHC’s mission. The event was the brainchild of food bloggers Whitney Fisch (@whitneyfisch) of Blue Ash, executive director of Hillel at Miami University, author Lindsey Love (@dollyandoatmeal) of New York City, and cookbook author Leah Koenig (@leahkoenig) of Brooklyn, N.Y. People purchased baked goods through Instagram from participating bakers and foodies or from their favorite Jewish chefs, including Adeena Sussman of Tel Aviv, Israel, Jake Cohen of New York City, Sam Adler (@frostingandfettuccine), Amy Kritzer (@whatjewwannaeat) and Danielle Oron (@iwillnoteatoysters) of Atlanta, author and photographer for “Modern Israeli Cooking.”

15. We welcomed constituents back to in-person programs. 

HHC partnered with community treasures like Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Cincinnati Playhouse at the Park to host in-person events again for constituents. In May, HHC and Playhouse hosted a series of in-person, outdoor performance events at locations around Cincinnati. Featuring an eclectic mix of scenes, monologues, spoken-word poetry and music, the events highlight artists who are using art to create dialogue and affect change in the world.

In December, HHC and Joseph-Beth Booksellers hosted author Rachael Cerrotti for a conversation and book signing about her memoir, We Share the Same Sky. In 2009, Rachael Cerrotti, a college student pursuing a career in photojournalism, asked her grandmother, Hana, if she could record her story. Rachael knew that her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and the only one in her family alive at the end of the war. Rachael also knew that she survived because of the kindness of strangers. 

16. We partnered with CET for a digitally innovative Yom HaShoah program.

For the second year due to the pandemic, the Holocaust & Humanity Center partnered with other community organizations to find new and safe ways to commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. In partnership with CET, the Mayerson JCC, and Jewish Family Service, HHC hosted a week of meaningful digital programs for the community. In order to reach as many community members as possible – including Holocaust survivors – the Holocaust & Humanity Center partnered with CET to offer a special a 30-minute broadcast that included stories of Holocaust survivors woven throughout as well as music, candle lighting, and moving prayers. Thousands of viewers watched the broadcast on television and online.

17. HHC launched its Digital Archives, featuring hundreds of compelling digital programs.

Throughout the pandemic, HHC has offered free, high-quality programs on Zoom and Facebook Live. To ensure that constituents can view these programs whenever and however they want, HHC created a Digital Program Archive on its website. Featuring hundreds of digital programs, the archive enables viewers to engage with our mission without leaving the comfort and safety of their home, classroom, or office. We hope it will be a resource for lifelong learners, schools, and community organizations.

18. HHC continued to grow its vitally important Beacons of Humanity donor program.

The work we do isn’t possible without the support of our donors. With our annual Beacons of Humanity program, individuals support the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center while receiving exclusive donor benefits. Individuals enroll in Beacons of Humanity on a calendar-year basis, from January through December. Businesses are welcome to join our Business Partnership Program which has specially designed packages with the business community in mind.

19. We raked in new awards.

HHC was recognized locally and nationally for its unique museum and important work. Awards won this year included:

  • 2021: Best Places for History Buffs by TripSavvy
  • 2021: Finalist for Best History Museum by Cincy Magazine

20. We responded to timely issues.

These deeply unsettling times demand that our work bring about needed change more than ever. We are committed to combating antisemitism and Holocaust denial. In the past year, we responded to rampant antisemitism, Holocaust comparisons and denial.

HHC also publicly opposed proposed legislation in Ohio, which would restrict the teaching of certain concepts and topics in K-16 classrooms, could have unintended consequences that would negatively impact Holocaust education in the State of Ohio.

21. We continued to inspired hearts and minds.

Whether we engaged with visitors at the museum, teachers at in-person workshops, or viewers on our digital programs, HHC found ways to connect with people and inspire hearts and minds. We fulfill our mission of ensuring the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today every time we educate a new person, touch one heart, or change someone’s perspective. Here’s what some of those individuals had to say:

  • One museum visitor from New York City said the exhibit was “totally interactive and so moving. “You hear from survivors who made their lives in Cincinnati. One of the most moving exhibits I’ve ever seen, and I’m from NYC. It gave a thorough history of how the Holocaust happened, raised issues that concern us today, of intolerance, of politics, of how moral human beings became ‘upstanders’. These are people who stood up and hid Jews and smuggled children out of danger. It was an overwhelming experience. One not to be missed.”
  • Megan McCarty, a social studies teacher and department chair at West Union High School within the  Adams County Ohio Valley School District, said HHC staff did a remarkable job of creating a unique experience for students during a field trip. “I so appreciate you and the many people who have worked and continue to work to bring awareness on such an important topic. I am proud to be a part of and associate with such an outstanding group of people,” she said.

ABOUT THE NANCY & DAVID WOLF HOLOCAUST & HUMANITY CENTER

The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center exists to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Located at Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal, HHC educates more than 200,000 community members through its educational initiatives, innovative digital and in-person programs, virtual tours and partnerships. For more information, visit www.holocaustandhumanity.org.