South Charlotte center, community to remember Holocaust this weekend

This Yom Hashoah, local Jewish community members want to help south Charlotte residents remember and learn more about Holocaust Memorial Day.

(Above) One way children remember the Holocaust at the Levine Jewish Community Center is through the Children’s Holocaust Memorial Sculpture.

That’s why in celebration of the international holiday, local Jewish organizations are collaboratively hosting “Remember the Holocaust: A Charlotte Community Day of Arts and Dialogue” this weekend.

“We want to do as much as we can to have community members remember those fallen and those liberated in the Holocaust and to not forget,” Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El said. “Worldwide, Jews observe this day to learn what can happen when evil is not stopped.”

This year, Schindler and Temple Beth El are coordinating the big event, which will take place Sunday, April 7, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road. Temple Israel, the Levine Jewish Community Center, the
Levine-Sklut Judaic Library and Resource Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte and Hadassah also are sponsoring the event.

Schindler said in years past, the organizations always celebrated the Jewish holiday with various events throughout the community, like last year’s Violins of Hope event – a project that featured 18 violins that belonged to victims of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust (above). But this year, Schindler said it was important to get the community involved even more – and to make it free and family-oriented.

“This is a unique opportunity to learn about the horrific, yet historic event, but also to come together and see the vibrant Jewish community (in Charlotte) today,” Schindler said “I think Charlotte is full of diversity and in order to create an inclusive community, we all need to learn about each other’s past in order to create a more collective future.”

Sunday’s event will begin in the Sam Lerner Center of Cultural Arts with music, reflections and the lighting of memorial candles by survivors of the Holocaust. Participants will then disperse to attend a workshop of their choice. The afternoon will conclude with the recitation of the Kaddish, or a mourner’s prayer of praise, and a light reception at the Margaret & Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden Holocaust Memorial.

Schindler said the workshops will present different opportunities for community members to learn more about the Holocaust in new and exciting ways.

“It’s going to be quite a nice program,” she said. “There will be things for people to hear and discuss…this year’s purpose is to engage the community to learn about the Holocaust through art, through film and even through cooking.”

The event will feature the following workshops:

• Recipes from the Holocaust: Stories, recipes and food will be shared to gain insights into women’s lives in concentration camps. These Holocaust recipes reveal the power of food to recall history – both personal and collective – and the importance that food plays in sustaining traditions, even during tragedy. This workshop will be held in the Dumas Activity Center.
“Pigeon”: A thought-provoking discussion following the viewing of the short film “Pigeon” by Anthony Green. The movie illustrates a central Jewish tenet: the obligation to save a life. Discussion will center on Jewish values such as “gemilut hasadim” or kindness to others and “tikkun olam” or repairing the world, as well as traditional values reflected in the characters’ actions. This program will be held in the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library and Resource Center.

• UNCC Reflections from Auschwitz: A panel of students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will share their experiences as participants in a course and program called “Bearing Witness to the Past.” These students recently traveled to Krakow, Poland, where they explored prewar Jewish life, and journeyed to Oswiecim, Poland, where they engaged in a study tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau. The students will share their experiences at the concentration camps, including why they went and what it meant. This program will take place in Luski Hall.

• The Butterfly Project: This workshop will use the story of the Holocaust as a vehicle to teach what can happen when prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination are allowed to flourish. A critical aspect of the lesson is to examine what can happen when individuals and governments fail to respect and protect all people. Participants will walk away with an awareness of the effects of the Holocaust on the most innocent victims. They also will learn about the Children’s Holocaust Memorial Sculpture in the Margaret & Lou Schwartz Butterfly Garden, which commemorates the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. Participants will have the
opportunity to paint a butterfly as part of a national program of remembrance. This workshop is open to students in fifth grade and above, if accompanied by an adult. Adults also are welcome on their own. Registration is required as there is a capacity of 50 people (www.beth-el.com/RSVP). This workshop will take place in the Weinberg
Center.

• Dr. Seuss Goes to War: Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) not only authored and illustrated countless children’s books that lifted childhoods, but also was a political cartoonist during World War II and a powerful voice of conscience. Rabbi Ezring of Temple Israel and Rabbi Schindler of Temple Beth El will lead a discussion on Geisel’s influential cartoons, which advocate for political and social change and attack racism and discrimination. This program will take place in the Sam Lerner Center.

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