San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is proposing to work alongside the curator of Chula Vista’s Holocaust Remembrance Exhibit to identify and provide space for a public Holocaust exhibit on county property.
The proposal comes as hate crimes in the past two years against the Jewish community in San Diego have been on the rise. The Jewish community in San Diego experienced 38 recorded incidents of antisemitism in 2021, including 14 cases of vandalism, 23 incidents of harassment, and one assault, according to a 2021 report from the Anti-Defamation League.
According to Fletcher in a letter to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the installation of a Holocaust Remembrance Exhibit on county property would support education and public understanding of the atrocities of the Holocaust and highlight the stories of San Diego Survivors. The proposed exhibit would be curated by author and educator Sandra Scheller of Chula Vista on county property.
“This troubling local and national trend has been linked to an alarming lack of public knowledge about the history of racism and bigotry against the Jewish people and the holocaust,” Fletcher wrote in a letter to the Board of Supervisors. “At the same time, there has been a well-documented rise in online hate and proliferation of Holocaust denial conspiracy theories, coinciding with rising hate crimes.”
At the beginning of 2020, Scheller opened “RUTH: Remember Us The Holocaust”, an exhibit she curated, sharing the lives of Holocaust survivors that came to San Diego County. The exhibit followed the lives of 13 Holocaust survivors who relocated to the South Bay using photos, documents, and other artifacts. It also shared the stories and messages of Holocaust survivors, those in camps, in hiding, and forced into ghettos.
The exhibit was sponsored by the Chula Vista Museum, the South Bay Historical Society, and the City of Chula Vista until its residency at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library ended in August 2022.
“I believe in the power of this exhibit and would like to invite Sandra Scheller to curate an exhibit for a San Diego County facility to ensure that more San Diego residents are exposed to the lessons of the Holocaust,” Fletcher wrote in the board letter.
The proposed exhibit “aims to combat bigotry and hate by investing in greater education and understanding of the history of hatred and racism towards the Jewish community and other victims of the holocaust. If approved, the request will result in a cost and revenue of $25,000 from the General Purpose Revenue. According to the board letter, the proposal includes the allocation of Neighborhood Reinvestment Program funding to the Jewish Federation of San Diego to help with expenses.
According to the board letter, the exhibit will be on display for at least one year in a County public location that would receive plenty of foot traffic and public engagement. If aproved, County staff will have 60 days to find a suitable location for the exhibit, with the expectation the facility will open to the public in April 2023 to coincide with Yom Hashoah, a globally recognized Holocaust Memorial Day.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider this item during the Jan.24 board meeting.