Hip Hop Violinist Miri Ben-Ari Launches Gedenk Movement

Hip Hop Violinist and Grammy Award winner, Miri Ben-Ari recently announced the launch of the Gedenk Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the world’s youth on Anti-Semitism and racism.  The word Gedenk is translated from the Yiddish language and means “remember.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gilerman and Miri Ben Ari, The Hip Hop Violinist, at the launch of the Gedenk Movement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Dan Gilerman, United Nations Ambassador of Israel, and other invited guests including Pras, of the Grammy award winning group The Fugees, attended the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Paramount Theater’s private screening room at Viacom’s midtown Manhattan offices.

The ceremony began with the lighting of the traditional remembrance candle and was accompanied by a Holocaust Survivor, Sylvia, who spoke with a fierceness and determination to continue the fight for awareness, recognition and justice. The years have passed and the righteous anger over the atrocities committed by a regime of terror to a young girl that was found, miraculously alive, under a pile of dead bodies, lives on. This determination to keep the memories alive of the souls that cry out from the ashes and from the graves, and from the memories of those who are left still to bear the burden of survival has never died. This organization is dedicated to Holocaust awareness and education.

The children survivors of the Holocaust from the Death Camps.

Today, she, a survivor of two death camps passed on her torch of truth to a young violinist with her own story of how she found out about the murderous time in history when the world watched and looked away, and sent away, and refused. Gedenk! Remember.

The Gedenk Movement, founded by Miri Ben-Ari, has a unique struggle on their hands. Their passion and determination is met with an apparent Holocaust illiteracy as studies show that over 50% of high school graduates in America are not familiar with the extermination of the six million Jew’s and others who died in Death Camps set up as the final solution to the Jewish problem by Germany’s Adolf Hitler during World War II.

The realities of the Holocaust remain powerful even in the black and white imagery.

To meet this challenge the organizations leaders, Jane Oster of the philanthropic Oster family and one of the many founders of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to Holocaust and Josue Sejour, Miri’s manager and CEO of The Music Movement, have produced three Public Service Announcement’s aimed at combating the disease of Holocaust illiteracy and complacency.

These powerful PSA’s were show at the ceremony and two depict a modern visual to associate with the truths of the SS tactics: A crowded Manhattan subway door opens and armed swat teams with German Sheppard’s, bark orders at the occupants segregating men, women and children as the pictures fades to a black and white still of the same tactic used by the Nazi’s.  Another depicts a peaceful family with the same consequence, a knock on the door and a full swat team orders the family to leave their home as they are herded into a crowded truck and carted away in the middle of the night. Again the color fades to the black and white truth of Hitler’s tactics.

Percy Knauth, a Time Magazine Correspondent stated in 1945 from Buchenwald and was quoted in Absolute Victory, “In Buchenwald, today I saw death reduced to a state of ordinariness that it just left me numb and feeling nothing not even a sickness to my stomach.”  The Holocaust is ordinary in 2008. It is an ordinary term, a black and white piece of history in a high def world.  The Gedeck Movement is going to change that.

An ordinary day at Buchenwald, a Death Camp in Nazi Germany.

I was able to have a brief interview with Miri after the ceremony. I asked her regarding the apparent Holocaust illiteracy among America’s youth how her organization planned to combat this force. “She simply stated, “By doing what we do.”

With this she paused and I must admit it was a noble answer and before I could press her on serious education plans she continued, “First of all you have to have your dream. You have to set up your goal. And my goal is to educate the people to know what it [The Holocaust] is. It might sound funny but one thing that really inspired me was Black Slavery and how the Black community celebrates their struggle.”

Miri Ben Ari stands in front of the launch in Times Square of her PSA for the Gedenk Movement.

She paused, her determination, courage and the energy of committed passion was evident as she continued, “We, Jews, don’t celebrate our struggle the same way the Black community does. I, myself, have been a part of so many events and concerts. I’ve been the PSA for the Dream concert for the Martin Luther King, Jr., foundation. There is Black Entertainment Television where the black struggle is always talked about in the arts; there is a Black History Month, a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  All we need have to do is take that as a model. Something that exists that works and do the same thing.  By using the same format, something that is already proven to educate we can do the same.”

With that our time had expired and she, Miri Ben-Ari, the Hip Hop violinist, Gammy winner and World Changer, was ushered to another photo op.

To view the PSA’s follow these links:

http://miribenari.com/psafamily/

http://miribenari.com/psa1/

http://miribenari.com/psasubway/

For more information on the Gedenk Movement: http://www.gedenkmovement.org/

To view Miri Ben Ari's Symphony of Brotherhood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfz1hJZPsxM

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