Fighting anti-Semitism with Anne Frank’s tree

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, as well as in the United States.
Whether we are Jewish or not, we should recall the horrors of the Holocaust, which began with a systematic program of anti-Semitic moves by the Nazis.
In response to this current rise in anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League is sponsoring a Walk Against Hate in Dallas on Sept. 15.
Various synagogues are holding discussion groups on the subject today, since a growing number of young people are not learning about the Holocaust.
With the advent of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness tests, teachers feel pressured to teach to certain objectives, allowing less time for meaningful discussions such as Hitler’s use of anti-Semitism and the resultant Holocaust.
Motivated and self-directed educators will make use of Holocaust centers, if possible, to provide an effective learning experience, but directives and guidelines will pressure teachers to move on.
Some educators are told not to spend too much time on Hitler’s Germany, putting greater emphasis on Germany after World War II. As a result, a growing number of school children are unaware of who Adolf Hitler was. Something more effective is needed in terms of educating young people about the evils of hate and anti-Semitism.
Many people have heard of the book, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” but have they read it? Everyone should because it provides a personal account of what life was like as a Jew hiding during the Holocaust. Her diary, historical records and the declining number of Holocaust survivors are some of the only tangible resources we have left to show our children.
While it is only mentioned three times, Anne found much joy in nature, commenting on the lone chestnut tree she observes from her hiding place in the Secret Annex.The tree provides insightful symbolism to readers.
On May 13, 1944, Frank’s diary reads, ”Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”
Her tree symbolizes freedom and continues to do so through its saplings replanted at many locations worldwide.
Fifty years after Anne Frank and her sister lost their lives to typhus at Bergen-Belsen, her tree also succumbed to disease.
Thankfully, caretakers at the Frank House, discovering the tree’s plight early enough, created saplings to be later planted at various sites around the world.
Anne Frank trees have been planted in places like: the U.S. Capitol, the Boston Common, the United Nations, the W.J. Clinton Presidential Center, Central High School in Arkansas, Southern Cayuga School District in New York Liberty Park, the New York Children’s Museum and several other places.
Some teachers assign Anne Frank’s diary to their students and foster meaningful discussions, encouraging their entire school to plant a tree on campus as a memorial dedicated to Anne Frank.
So many of life’s lessons can be learned if today’s children read Anne Frank’s words.
“We’re all alive, but we don’t know why or what for; we’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same… we have the opportunity to get an education and make something of ourselves…but we have to earn it. …doing good and working, not being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.”
Demonstrations and discussions translate to short-term lessons, but the reading of Anne Frank’s diary, followed by the planting of a tree at a school in her honor, results in a lifelong remembrance.

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