Representatives of the Jewish communities on all four major Hawaiian Islands recently came together at Gov. David Ige’s office for the first time when the governor proclaimed today, “Education and Sharing Day, Hawaii.”
While it’s actually the 40th anniversary of “Education Day, USA,” it’s the first time Hawaii has officially joined it.
“The emphasis here is that education is not merely the acquisition of knowledge and information alone, but rather it is critical to instill in our students and youth a sense of morals and values, an ethical standard of living,” said Rabbi Michoel Goldman of Chabad Kauai.
“Particularly, at this time in our country, when we mourn the tragic loss of innocent students’ lives due to senseless, barbaric behavior it is most timely to underscore the urgent need to make education holistic, not just feeding the mind, but the heart and character as well,” he added.
Ige said he was honored to join the national campaign.
Chabad of Hawaii is celebrating 30 years of service to the community, and operates educational outreach on all four main islands.
March 27 is actually the Hebrew calendar birthday of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem-Mendel Schneerson, who has established over 3,000 educational centers in 101 countries and in each of the 50 U.S. states.
In 1978, President Carter designated the Rebbe’s birthday as Education and Sharing Day “to recognize and pay tribute to his efforts for a better education for all American citizens.”
In visiting the governor, Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky highlighted the call of the Rebbe for a “Moment of Silence” to be instituted in all schools, which he said would create the opportunity “to reflect about a Higher Power, without being dogmatic in any way.”
Goldman spoke of what he referred to as “the shocking absence” of educational materials in public and private schools relating to the Holocaust and anti-semitism, and the need to change that.
He said what motivated this was that last year, the Veterans Center on Kauai hosted a traveling exhibit telling the largely untold story of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which consisted entirely of Japanese-American soldiers.
Many were from Hawaii and instrumental in liberating Jews who were on a death march out of the main Dachau camp.
“It was a fascinating link between Hawaii and the Holocaust with many people on Kauai identifying people in the photos as family members,” Goldman said. “One would have thought that this would be an opportunity to educate our youth about the Holocaust.”
Not just as a history lesson, he added, but as a discussion point on bigotry, hate and treatment of minorities.
“With the alarming rise of anti-semitism in today’s world, we have to do better in bringing awareness to our youth,” he said.