Local families celebrating Passover react to Sean Spicer's Holocaust comments

SOLON, OH (WOIO) - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is drawing criticism for comments he made about the Holocaust during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

"I think a couple things -- you look back -- we didn't use chemical weapons in WWII. You had a, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to the -- to using chemical weapons," Spicer said. "He was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing -- there is clearly -- I understand that but -- I appreciate that -- there is not in the -- he brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. But in in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down, to innocent into the middle of towns, it was brought, so the use of it. And I appreciate the clarification of it, that was not the intent."

It was an effort to compare the German leader to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but it's not sitting well with the Jewish community, especially in the middle of Passover.

Cleveland 19 spoke with a local family observing the Jewish holiday. The Olgin family is disappointed by Spicer's comments, and they hope his apology is sincere. They say there is no need to compare Hitler to anyone.

Elyssa Olgin's family gathered at their Solon home at sundown for a Seder meal.

"To have a room full of all the different generations, to be able to celebrate together, and to pass on traditions that my parents raised me with that I can pass on and raise my children with, it's just a really special feeling," Olgin said.

Olgin used to work at Cleveland 19.

She said each member of her family participates in the Passover celebration. About 25 people gathered around the table Tuesday night, including a Catholic friend they invited to learn more about the holiday. This Jewish holiday is full of history and meaning and lasts for eight days.

"It recognizes the Jews' escape from Egypt, when they were under slavery under Pharaoh's rule," Olgin said.

Each item on the table during Passover has a meaning.

"Salt water to remind you of the tears that were shed," Olgin explained.

During this holiday, Olgin paused to reflect on Spicer's comments.

"I was amazed that he said that, that he came out and said that Assad was worse than Hitler," Olgin said.

She said it's essential that everyone understands the history of the Holocaust.

"Obviously Hitler used chemical weapons, he built gas chambers and used Zyklon B to gas millions of people," Olgin said.

Olgin thought of her children and the future as she gathered around the table with her family. She hopes the lessons of the past don't fade with time.

"We're at the stage of the Holocaust where many of the survivors are dying off. And it makes it sadly easier for someone to say, 'Oh, it didn't happen,'" she said.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect is calling for Sean Spicer to be fired.

Spicer released several apologies, saying that he was: "In no way trying to lessen the horrendous nature of the Holocaust."

Spicer says he was "aware" that gas chambers were used during the Holocaust and he asked people to forgive him for his mistake.

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