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Cohen Gift will Enable Center for Holocaust Studies to Expand Outreach

KEENE, N.H. 7/31/01 - Keene State College has received the largest non-bequest gift in its history. The gift will enable the College to significantly expand the educational offerings of the Center for Holocaust Studies.

The gift, made by Jan and Richard Cohen of Keene, N.H., will, in part, create an endowment to fund a full-time coordinator for educational outreach at the Center.

“We are deeply grateful to the Cohens for their support of the Center,” said Stanley J. Yarosewick, president of Keene State. “Their generous gift will allow the Center to dramatically broaden its program outreach to secondary schools in New Hampshire and Vermon, and will ensure that this outreach continues in the future.”

The College’s goal is to raise additional funds to bring the Cohen Endowment to $1 million to ensure that Holocaust outreach educational programming continues on a permanent basis. In recognition of this gift, the Center is being renamed the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies.

The Cohens’ gift honors Rick’s parents, Norma and Lester Cohen, also of Keene, who have a long-held commitment to issues surrounding the Holocaust. Speaking on behalf of his family, Rick said, “There is no better way to honor our parents than to leave a lasting legacy of what they have taught and believed in their entire lives. The Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies will continue to teach the values of tolerance, awareness, and the importance of history for generations to come.”

According to Lester Cohen, the endowment recognizes the close bond between his family’s commitment and the Center’s mission to ensure that the history of the Holocaust is not forgotten. “If we forget the lessons and the tragedy of the Holocaust,” warned Lester Cohen, “history will repeat itself.”

The Center has worked for nearly two decades to preserve the historical record of the Holocaust and to teach generations of students about the costs of prejudice and hatred. According to Paul Vincent, director of the Center and a member of the College’s history department, an endowment of one million dollars will permanently fund a full-time coordinator of educational outreach. Initially, some of the Cohens’ contribution will be used to underwrite this position, while the remainder will be invested in the endowment.

The College’s ongoing commitment to expand Holocaust studies, said Vincent, includes moving the Center in 2003 to a larger and more visible location on the main floor of KSC’s Mason Library. There is also an effort under way to increase course offerings in Holocaust Studies, and the Center continues to support such events as the annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series, the Kristallnacht Remembrance, and the Charles Hildebrandt Holocaust Studies Award presentation.

“The Holocaust,” Vincent said, “has become the benchmark for genocide, for racism, for hatred of foreigners, and, of course, for anti-Semitism, and it has universal implications. We all must deal with this event; we have to study it, learn from it, and recognize it as embracing universal lessons. The Norma and Lester Cohen Endowment will ensure that this is done better and with more far-reaching results.”

For more information, contact Judy Kalich, director of advancement, at 603-358-2371. For more information about the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies, visit their web site at

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