Dr. Celia Rabinowitz and I kibitzed Tuesday afternoon about a variety of issues touching upon the Cohen Center in the coming year. You see, we’re in the early days of tackling our new roles as interim co-directors of the center. At one point Celia asked “How should we respond if someone inquires about the center’s position in our country’s current crisis?” “Nonpartisan,” we both agreed. Yet, that’s little more than a negative response; it says nothing.
As I’m in the midst of poring over papers related to Dr. Charles Hildebrandt and the founding of the Holocaust Resource Center (precursor to the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies), I told Celia of Chuck’s unqualified anger when faced with injustice. Whether confronted by antisemitism or racism, or by hatred inspired by sexual orientation or founded upon religious, ethnic or gender differences, Chuck was remorseless in his condemnation. Known as a gentle man by those who knew him, nothing raised his hackles like injustice. In the very marrow of his being, he believed in the equality of all human beings — each of whom was created in the image of God. Celia and I left our meeting determined to reflect on an appropriate response to our theoretical question.
Soon on my way to the Apple Hill Gala, however, I convinced myself that someone was going to ask “What’s the Cohen Center’s position in our country’s current crisis?” Well, no one did. Amidst the glorious twilight of an evening enjoyed by all, we dined together before feasting on music for dessert. A joyful mix of men and women; of the young and the old; of friends and strangers; of black, white, and hues undefined; of Christians, Jews, Muslims and, one must assume, atheists; of English speakers and those for whom English is clearly a second language; and, it should be noted, of Democrats and Republicans — we came together to enjoy both music and one another’s company. Such is Apple Hill; it provides a reality that embodies the Cohen Center’s position in our country’s current crisis.
C. PAUL VINCENT
229 Main St.
(This writer is professor emeritus of Holocaust studies and history at Keene State College and interim co-director of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.)