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Florida Armenians Participate in ‘Together We Remember’ Community Vigil in Boca Raton

BOCA RATON, FL – On Tuesday, April 16, a group of local and national human rights activists, community leaders, elected officials, religious leaders, teachers and students gather in Sanborn Square for “Together We Remember: The Future of Our Past,” reported Florida Armenians.

David Estrin, Founder and CEO of Together We Remember, organized the second annual universal commemoration program in Boca Raton. “April is Genocide Awareness Month,” Estrin said. “So it’s important that we all come together this time of year to commemorate our past and take action for the future,” he said.

The program began with the reading of names of victims of various genocides, including the Armenian Genocide, as well as victims of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and gun violence in the world. Arsine Kaloustian, Chairwoman of the South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. (AGC) read the names of genocide victims. Lonny Wilk, Senior Associate Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League-Florida read the names of victims of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and gun violence. A local student from the Boca Raton Interfaith Youth Association read the names of lynching victims in Florida.

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), whose district includes the cities of Boca Raton and Parkland, gave the keynote address. His remarks focused on the meaning of “Never Again” today and how individuals learn from one another and take collective action.

The program also featured musical interludes from Shine MSD, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

The program also featured an expert panel of religious leaders, community activists, and academics who discussed their respective community’s experience with genocide, violence, and hatred. Panelists included Liz Vocasek, Associate Education Director, Anti-Defamation League-Florida; Rev. Fr. Andrew Sherman, Pastor of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church of Boca Raton, Florida; Taniel Koushakjian, Editor of FLARMENIANS.com; Darren Levine, Teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and Rabbi Leonid Feldman, Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida. The panel was moderated by Antonella Regueiro, Assistant Professor at Lynn University.

To conclude the program, participants were encourage to take action in their own way. Some took action by writing to their elected officials from their smart phones. Others shared stories and pictures on social media to amplify the message. Some pledged to write letters to their local newspapers.

At the end, everyone listened to the stories of each other, engaged with people they had never met, and people came together to say in one voice: “We Remember” and “Never Again.”

For more photos, check out the Florida Armenians Facebook Page Photo Album.

You can also watch two video clips from the event here and here.

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#TogetherWeRemember: The Future of Our Past

Join South Florida’s next-generation of inspiring community leaders, artists and change-makers at Sanborn Square in Downtown Boca Raton, FL on Tuesday, April 16th from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM for a community-wide vigil, dialogue, and call to action aiming to unite our city across lines of difference to address rising hatred and ongoing violence. This event seeks to remind us of the past while looking to the future, through an exploration of the meaning of “never again” in South Florida and how we, as a community, can continue to work to make that dream a reality.

We will honor the victims of violence around the world through a powerful name-reading ceremony, hear inspiring performances that open hearts and minds, learn from influential community members about issues of violence and remembrance, and participate in a bridge-building dialogue. To celebrate and activate our renewed commitment to look out for one another, we will host a concluding celebration with food trucks and feature game-changing organizations that you can immediately take action with. This event is one of dozens of #TogetherWeRemember vigils taking place around the world in April to transform remembrance into action during Genocide Awareness Month.

Time & Date:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location:

Sanborn Square
72 North Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Confirmed Speakers, Performers, and Organizations:

  • Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Peña (Shine MSD / MSD Students)
  • Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL)
  • Rabbi David Steinhardt (B’nai Torah Congregation / Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association)
  • Rabbi Leonid Feldman (Temple Beth El, West Palm Beach)
  • Rev. Fr. Andrew Sherman (St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Boca Raton)
  • Arsine Kaloustian (Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc.)
  • Taniel Koushakjian (Florida Armenians)
  • Liz Vocasek (Anti Defamation League)
  • Antonella Regueiro (Lynn University)
  • David Estrin (Together We Remember)
  • Representatives from Church World Service

 

Florida Armenians Participate in International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at Palm Beach Central High School

WELLINGTON, FL – On Friday, January 25, 2019 the Palm Beach County School District held an International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at Palm Beach Central High School (PBCHS). The event featured a collaborative program of student speakers from the school’s Holocaust Studies Department that highlighted the mass genocides of the 20th century, and called attention to the increase of violent crimes due to bigotry and hatred.

Over 100 students, faculty, and administrators gathered in the auditorium to hear the presentations, including remarks from PBCHS Holocaust Studies Department Chair Ms. Maureen Holtzer, and Zelda Fuksman, a Holocaust survivor who speaks to students across Florida about the Holocaust as part of the state’s inSIGHT Through Education initiative.

Following the presentations, participants traveled outside to the unveiling of a Genocide Memorial Garden, which will be a permanent fixture for students, parents, and teachers to learn about all genocides, man’s inhumanity towards man, and the lessons of intolerance and prejudice.

Norman Frajman, a local Holocaust survivor spoke about his experience, the importance of remembrance, and how we can all learn from the past lest we be doomed to repeat it.

Florida Armenians Editor Taniel Koushakjian offered remarks about the local Armenian American community’s efforts to expand genocide education through the work of the Armenian Genocide Committee (AGC). The AGC has successfully led a unified Armenian American community effort since 2014, working hand-in-hand with government officials, school administrators, educators, and parents in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.

Ms. Holtzer and her students spent weeks preparing the beautiful grounds of the garden. They also worked passionately to deliver a moving presentation and program. The Genocide Memorial Garden features hand-made butterflies that list the names of genocide victims for each instance of genocide, including the Armenian Genocide.

“The garden was created by students from my research class as their legacy to the school,” Ms. Holtzer said. “They felt it was of utmost importance to create something that would be a reminder of the devastating consequences of hatred. They selected the butterfly as their symbol as it represents both beauty and freedom,” said Ms. Holtzer.

To conclude the program participants were all given butterflies which were then set free together to mark the opening of the garden.

“I think it’s wonderful,” stated Richard Baronian of Boynton Beach, FL. The names of Baronian’s family members who perished in the genocide are displayed in the garden. “The genocide remembrance garden at Palm Beach Central High School will teach the students and parents of non-Armenians about our history. Hopefully they will want to find out more so the world never forgets,” Baronian said.