I was thrilled to learn that an exhibit from The Anne Frank Center USA in New York City, which I visited at its new location during a recent trip to NYC, is returning to the East Valley Jewish Community Center.
“Anne Frank: A History for Today” was first exhibited at the EVJCC four years ago, according to executive director Steve Tepper. It will return Jan. 30-March 7, 2012. But this time, says Tepper, it’ll be paired with “an exhibit on rescuers/heroes from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.”
The Anne Frank exhibit “juxtaposes photographs of the Frank family with historical events of the time and shows how persecuted people, such as the Franks, were affected by both individual and political actions.”
The “Whoever Saves a Single Life…Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust” exhibit features the diverse heroic efforts, big and small, of those who assisted Jews during the Holocaust. Tepper sites as an example the case of a woman who baked a loaf of bread — then snuck it into a concentration camp.
The strength of Anne Frank’s story, reflects Tepper, is its power to “make an undigestible event, especially an event of the Holocaust’s magnitude, digestible.” It’s a story, he says, that people can relate to.
Tepper hopes that pairing the two exhibits will signal to the people who see them their own ability as ordinary people to make a difference through their everyday lives. Not every act of heroism is a grand gesture, but every act of heroism has value. What we do, individually and collectively, matters.
The EVJCC will also exhibit a poster set called “Traits that Transcend,” which lists the character traits that rescuers/heroes possessed — and a video series “that reunites those that were rescued during the Holocaust with the rescuers.” Exhibited materals will help people remember, but also inspire them to act.
If you know someone who embodies the spirit of Anne Frank, let them know about the “Spirit of Anne Franks Awards” presented each year by The Anne Frank Center USA. McNeil notes that applications for the next round of awards will soon be available on their website.
Awards are given in several categories — including citizen, educator and student. McNeil adds that the winning high school student will receive a $10,000 scholarship. “We fly all winners to NYC, put them up in a hotel and they are part of our big gala,” shares McNeil. “So it is wonderful recognition for adults who work for tolerance as well.”
The “Spirit of Anne Frank Awards” honor individuals who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to taking a stand “against discrimination of all kinds.” I’ve encountered all sorts of amazing people in Arizona who fight discrimination against those who are gay, those who have a mental ilness, those who immigrated from other countries and more. This is a great way to recognize their work while letting folks outside of Arizona know about the good things happening here.
Note: I learned from Valley Youth Theatre’s Bobb Cooper that longtime VYT supporter Hope Ozer is a “Jewish Community Heroes” nominee, then discovered that EVJCC’s Steve Tepper is also among the ten Arizona nominees. Click here to learn more about this program of The Jewish Federations of North America.
Coming up: A night at the Gershwin Theatre
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