Head of USC Shoah Foundation leaves role with heartfelt letter to all survivors

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Head of USC Shoah Foundation leaves role with heartfelt letter to all survivors

British-born Stephen Smith departs as chief executive of the California-based Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg, saying it was 'the greatest honour of my life to work with you'

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

A British-born Holocaust educator has announced he is stepping down as head of the USC Shoah Foundation.

Stephen Smith penned a heartfelt letter to ‘To survivors of the Shoah and genocides the world over’ in announcing he is leaving his role as Chief Executive.

The foundation, established by legendary director Steven Spielberg and based at the University of Southern California, has been a world-leader in recording Shoah testimony using technology.

Smith said in his open letter, that Spielberg made  “two promises to you when he established the Shoah Foundation. The first was that your testimonies would be preserved in perpetuity.

“The second promise was that we would teach with your testimonies around the globe.

“Today, hundreds of universities and millions of school students learn from you every year.

Steven Spielberg (Gage Skidmore)

Smith, who also founded the UK Holocaust Centre in Nottingham with his brother James, announced that after 12 years at the helm of USCSF he would be leaving and that it had been “the greatest honour of my life to work with you, to bring light to our world through your voices”.

During his tenure he said the foundation now reaches classrooms in more than 90 countries and 14 languages, while the number of teachers has grown from a few hundred to 250,000, and more than 8 million students had heard survivor testimony.

He announced that Dr. Kori Street will become Interim Executive Director, and he will continue in a voluntary role as Executive Director Emeritus, and as a as Visiting Professor of Religion at USC.

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