Tag Archives: U.S. Capitol

All Through the Night

I listened all through the day for coverage of Thursday’s United States Holocaust Remembrance Day, but heard not a peep after watching the official ceremony at the U.S. Capitol broadcast online. It’s starting to feel like people pay more attention to tornado warnings than alerts to rising storms of a more sinister nature.

Seems we’re living a startling disconnect these days from events preceding the Holocaust, overlooking glaring similarities popping up all around us in contemporary culture. Shirley Lauro’s “All Through the Night,” being performed by Theater Works in Peoria through May 13, makes it clear that the Holocaust didn’t happen overnight.

Theater Works in Peoria presents "All Through the Night" through May 13

The play imagines life for several German women, none of them Jewish, as events surrounding the rise, rule and ruin of the Third Reich take place. They’re in high school, a time when feeling like the “other” is already plenty painful, when hatred of the different escalates to demonic proportions.

Imagine Nazi Germany as the backdrop for every major milestone in your young adult life. Dating. Career. Marriage. Children. Caring for aging parents. Imagine loving someone your government wants to exterminate. Or losing a disabled child to a state bent on brutal experimentation.

“All Through the Night” is a brilliant bit of playwriting that elicits genuine empathy rather than settling for mere sentimentality. And the Theater Works production, an Arizona premiere directed by Richard Powers Hardt, is beautifully done. You’ll feel, while watching it, like you’re right there alongside these women. And you’ll leave with a greater sense of the insidious nature of evil.

It’s easy to assume that we’d never allow such horrors to take place if set into similar circumstances. “All Through the Night” makes clear the complexity of each woman’s challenges and choices, giving pause to playgoers who’ve perhaps lost touch with their own moral compass. Anyone mature enough to see the film “Bully” should see this play as well. Hitler was a bully surrounded by bystanders.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to order a copy of the play from publisher Samuel French, and here to enjoy a piece about reading plays from The New York Times 

Coming up: School editions of mature content musicals, Zooming in on “Zero,” The New York Children’s Theater Festival

National Days of Remembrance

"Never Again" Sign at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Update: Click here to watch video of the May 17 national remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, which was broadcast live on the USHMM website. The ceremony included remarks by Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who spoke of how “human compassion was out of fashion” during the Holocaust, and Isreal ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who shared that remembering alone is never enough — because goodness must be “galvanized by action.” Other speakers included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who spoke about justice and the law, and USHMM director Sara Bloomfield. Click here to follow Twitter comments on this ceremony.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. has been charged by the United States Congress with leading our country’s national commemoration of the Holocaust.

This year’s Holocaust remembrance week is May 1-8. The theme is “Justice and Accountability in the Face of Genocide: What Have We Learned?” But you don’t need to visit D.C. to participate.

Observances are being held by state and local governments, military bases, workplaces, schools, synagogues and civic centers throughout the country, according to the USHMM.

Arizona events include the “CMS 3rd Annual Days of Remembrance Community Event” in Cottonwood — taking place Thurs, May 5, at 6pm at Cottonwood Middle School. Students will open the event “by sharing their published books about genocide and the Holocaust.”

A special USHMM program titled “Life After Death: Holocaust Survivors in the Postwar World” takes place that same evening in Scottsdale. It features Mark Roseman, Ph.D. , the Museum’s 2010-11 Ina Levine Invitational Scholar and the Pat M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.

Roseman will “explore the trajectories that survivors’ lives took after World War II and how popular perceptions of the survivor became central to the late 20th-century consciousness” at 6:30pm at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale. RSVP by May 2 to Gerry Hoch at 972-490-6300 or southwest@ushmm.org.

Visit the website for Jewish News of Greater Phoenix for additional information about Holocaust remembrance and related events. If your organization is hosting an event, please share details by commenting below to let our readers know.

Click here to share a comment on the USHMM website about how you plan to remember the Holocaust this week, here to watch a webcast of the May 17 commemoration at the U.S. Capitol and here to learn how you can participate in a virtual names reading ceremony remembering victims of the Holocaust.

If you’re looking for additional information about Holocaust remembrance for children and teens, read “Remember and Act: Engaging children in social justice” in the May 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

The article ends with the following reflection: Memory is never passive, and silence never neutral. We must remember, we must remain vigilant and every one of us must act.

– Lynn

Note: Information about the Holocaust, as well as Holocaust remembrance, is also available from Yad Vashem in Israel. Click here to learn more about “Jewish American Heritage Month,” celebrated in May.

Coming up: Bringing a Holocaust museum to the Valley

Mixed reviews for Ronald Reagan

The reviews for Ronald Reagan — first as an actor, then as a politician — have always been mixed. Reagan served as our country’s 40th president from 1981-1989, and before that served as Governor of California.

I say “served” out of more than respect for traditional lingo on the topic — because I still believe that holding elected office is an act of public service. We do it a grave injustice today by reducing it to politics and punditry.

I remember my daughters considering service in the Senate when they were younger, having been raised to appreciate and admire the role of legislators.

They liked the idea of getting to know people in the community, listening to their diverse ideas, and working with others to craft ways to move collective dreams forward.

But one politician in particular, who rallies Reagan’s name to further her own causes, gives me serious pause (an expression attributed to Shakepeare’s “Hamlet”).

Lately I’ve been wondering whether actors, like Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor of California from 2003-2010), make good politicians — and whether politicians are becoming more skilled as actors.

I wasn’t terribly steeped in politics as a child. I suspect my mother, holding a more circular than linear view of time, was “apolitical” at best. As a young adult I didn’t pay careful attention to Reagan’s policies.

But I distinctly recall two bookends of his presidency — the 1981 release of American hostages and the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany (Reagan’s famous call to “Tear down that wall!” came during a 1987 speech).

Like most people, it’s the history to which I have some personal connection (however remote) that I remember best. Having studied in Heidelberg as part of the Pepperdine University “Year in Europe” program, I’ve always been finely tuned to events taking place in Germany.

When Pepperdine students learned that the Iranian hostages had been released and would be flown to a military hospital in Wiesbaden, we felt a surge of patriotism —  traveling by train to join the relatively small crowd welcoming them to this stop on their journey home.

We rushed to make signs, including a long banner that somehow made its way to the balcony from which the rescued hostages would wave to supporters there to greet them. It read: YOU’RE FREE! “AFTER ALL, WE ARE AMERICANS” (Click here to see the sign in an AP file photo.)

Our son Christopher, now age 21, was born the year the Berlin Wall fell. Parenthood has fueled my growing interest in history and public policy — and motivated me to act each day (if even in small ways, like writing these posts) to make some measure of difference for both my own family and the community we all share.

Ronald Reagan died June 5, 2004 — and was honored with a seven-day state funeral in Washington, D.C. I was attending a national mental health conference at the time, as executive director and non-compensated lobbyist for an Arizona non-profit.

Like many Americans, I stood several hours in line to write a message in one of many condolence books that reside now at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

I didn’t agree with everything Reagan said or did as President, but I respect the office — and those who sacrifice so much of self and family to faithfully carry out their duties each day (and night). I was humbled to witness our nation’s capitol mourn his loss.

I got to thinking about Ronald Reagan the other day as the airwaves broadcast celebrations of what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday. One interview struck me in particular — I believe it was with his son Ron Reagan (just two years my senior) and another man who knew Reagan well.

Two thoughts offered during the interview left me feeling empathy with Reagan in ways that hadn’t ever occured to me before.

First, that Reagan’s political optimism was fueled by his dogged determination as a child to will painful experiences into positive perspectives somehow.

And second, that Reagan — despite being a deeply caring and genuine man — had very few, if any, close friends.

In both these ways I feel a certain sympatico with Reagan that I might never have developed otherwise.

But what, you might wonder, does this have to do with the arts?

I also heard a gentleman explain that Ronald Reagan loved inviting a few friends over for politics-free evenings of swapping stories. He noted that Reagan’s favorite storyteller of all time was his father.

Whatever your reviews for Ronald Reagan, on screen or off, embrace the power of storytelling. Make sure your children know about your own experiences with pivotal moments in history.

Remind them that public service is a noble profession. And work alongside them to create a better future for all Arizona families.

– Lynn

Note: Visitors to the website for the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Library can enjoy an introduction by actor Gary Sinise, who will be attending this month’s 2011 “Sedona International Film Festival

Coming up: A week of firsts