“I learned that pain and joy can be enriching when combined together. You cannot have one without the other.”

– Audience member, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY
Co-founders Roz Jacobs and Laurie Weisman with Monroe Community College faculty members

Co-founders Roz Jacobs and Laurie Weisman with Monroe Community College faculty members

 

On November 10th we screened “Finding Kalman” as part of Monroe Community College’s 25th Annual Kristallnacht Memorial Program. It was part of an entire day of events—from talking with students and faculty about the evolution of The Memory Project Productions to dinner with leaders of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Project. It was a poignant day both because of the passion of the students for social justice and their sensitivity. They presented us with a condolence card and thanked us for coming despite the recent loss of Anna Jacobs who inspired the entire project and was the beloved mother of Roz Jacobs, the organization’s co-founder. Anna passed away at 91 on October 22nd and it was very emotional to do this program in commemoration of Kristallnacht for the first time with Anna Jacobs gone. At the same time, it was deeply satisfying to be sharing her story and having it touch hearts in the context of her loss and of an election season filled with hateful rhetoric and ignorance.

Kristallnacht, translated as “night of the broken glass” occurred between November 9th and 10th, 1938. The SA and Hitler Youth destroyed and vandalized Jewish synagogues, businesses, schools, and homes, and killed nearly 100 Jews that across Germany and Austria. 30,000 more Jews were arrested, paving the way for their mass incarceration at concentration camps. In the aftermath, Jews were falsely blamed for the riots, and forced to pay for the damages. Anti-Jewish legislation was passed shortly after that night, removing business from Jewish ownership, expelling Jewish children from German schools, and restricting Jews from owning cars, holding most jobs, and participating in cultural events. This is seen by historians today as the beginning of what became the Holocaust.

The Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Project (HGHRP) led by Jodi Oriel and run by students is doing a fantastic job “exploring the Holocaust, genocide and human rights issues. Members openly discuss the nature of good and evil, together with such issues as indifference, survival, identity, faith, tolerance, forgiveness and compassion—and apply learnings to our contemporary world.”

We’re so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the building of empathetic and engaged community in Rochester. These are the thoughts of other screening attendees, a hopeful step in the right direction:

 

“The film provided me with a first hand example of how the Holocaust impacted families. I have never witnessed anything like it.”

“It’s important to emphasize how vital storytelling is. Textbooks can only teach so much.”

“[It is important] to develop compassion & advocacy for those suffering from prejudice”

“I believe it is our generation’s duty to keep the stories alive.”

 

 

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