Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff was at the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation today to learn about the organization’s work in Holocaust education and its Dimensions in Testimony program that features AI interactive videos of Holocaust survivors.

The visit began at 10 am local time in the center’s lobby, where the Second Gentleman was greeted by Dr. Kori Street, Interim Finci-Viterbi Executive Director at the Foundation.

Dr. Kori Street told Emhoff about the Foundation’s work, which she says will reach 10 million students globally by next year. Emhoff referenced his own family’s Holocaust history, and Street showed Emhoff a video testimony from a Holocaust survivor who lived in the same town as Emhoff’s family in eastern Europe.

After the introduction in the lobby, Emhoff and Street were joined by the Foundation’s chief technology officer, Sam Gustman, and Seline Hemilians, a high school student participating in USC Shoah Foundation’s William P. Lauder Junior Internship Program.

The Foundation’s staff shared the Dimensions in Testimony project with Emhoff, which Hemilians said helps survivors’ testimony “come to life.”

The Second Gentleman spoke about the importance of personally witnessing survivors’ stories and other issues around the world, saying, “Until you actually see it and experience it, you just don’t know or believe it’s happening.”

“We are experiencing an epidemic of hate in our world right now,” Emhoff said, referencing the attacks in Pittsburgh and Buffalo. “People need to unify against hate.”

Emhoff then asked the AI bot of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter a series of questions, including “How did you survive?” and about his message to students today. He ended by asking Gutter to sing a song. 

The final component of the Second Gentleman’s visit to the Shoah Foundation was a live Zoom conversation with Pinchas Gutter, whose AI he had just spoken to. “I feel like I already know you!” Emhoff told Gutter when they began their conversation.

Gutter told Emhoff and Street his story and thanked Emhoff and the Biden administration for their work combatting hate and antisemitism. 

“I really feel that you are able to make a difference, and you are making a difference,” Gutter told Emhoff.

Pedro Noguera, dean of the USC Rossier School of Education, also joined. 

Gutter concluded by sharing his favorite Yiddish joke and again thanking Emhoff and the administration for their efforts. “I am going to see the president and vice president later today, and I am going to tell them that,” Emhoff replied. 

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