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RI College to Host Holocaust Remembrance Events

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Holocaust Remembrance in music, concert, and education, next week at RIC.

Rhode Island College will host an innovative series of Holocaust Remembrance events, from a stirring concert and documentary film to educational workshops.

Concert: Phoenix from the Ashes

Phoenix from the Ashes: A Musical Remembrance of the Holocaust Concert will be held on Wednesday, March 21, at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Nazarian Center’s Sapinsley Hall. The concert is part of the RIC Wednesday Chamber Music Series and features seven songs for soprano and piano composed by internationally renowned pianist, Judith Lynn Stillman, RIC’s artist-in-residence. The work will be performed by Lori Phillips ’86, soprano, New York Metropolitan Opera, with Stillman as collaborative pianist.

The song texts for the concert are based upon poems from Vedem, (Czech for “In the Lead”), a magazine which included art, essays, interviews and poetry and was secretly written by teenage boys in the Terezín concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Judith Stillman, composer and pianist.

Of the scores of boys who knowingly put their lives in danger to create Vedem, only one of them, Sidney Taussig, remained in Terezín until its liberation in May 1945. He had the insight and courage to bury nearly 800 pages of the manuscript in the hopes that it might survive World War II. After the camp was liberated, Taussig retrieved the magazine and brought it with him to Prague. 

Eighty-two year-old Sidney Taussig, who now resides in West Palm Beach, Fla., will be an honored guest at both events.

The program includes cantors Brian Mayer, Temple Emanu-El, Providence; Judy Seplowin, Temple Beth-El, Providence; Fred Scheff, Temple Shalom, Middletown; and the RIC Chorus.

In discussing how this historic premiere evolved, Judith Lynn Stillman said she was inspired to create Phoenix from the Ashes when she was on tour in Montreal and came across “Vedem” while visiting the home of two Holocaust survivors.

At the same time, Stillman’s daughter was admitted to a dramaturgical program at Harvard where writing lyrics is one of her charges.“I was struck by how fortunate it is that her lyrics have the gift of life –they live in current music – and how overwhelmingly heartbreaking it is that the young Terezín voices were extinguished. I was instantly compelled to give a “rebirth,” a kind of immortality, to these tragically muted voices, through song settings,” Stillman said.

Film: The Boys of Terezin

Immediately following the 7:30 pm concert on March 21, the Northeast premiere of The Boys of Terezín will be screened.

The Boys of Terezín by John Sharify, a seven-time recipient of the National Edward R. Murrow prize for journalism and the winner of 40 Emmy awards, brings together Holocaust survivors and contributors to Vedem, Seattle’s renowned Northwest Boychoir and a chamber music group to capture the story of Vedem.

As the members of the Northwest Boys’  Choir rehearse a new oratorio, they not only learn the poems that the Boys of Terezín wrote, but they also get a glimpse into the boys’ daily struggle for survival at the concentration camp. The film also reunites – after 65 years – several boys of Terezín including Taussig. 

The afternoon and evening programs are free and open to the public.

For more information on these events, please call 401-456-9883 or check the Web site at www.ric.edu/pfa.

Belfer First-Step Workshop

Rhode Island College is one of six institutions of higher education in the nation selected by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to host the Belfer First Step Workshop which is designed to prepare pre-service secondary teachers to integrate the Holocaust into their lesson plans effectively.

According to Ezra Stieglitz, RIC professor of elementary education, “While there are some educators who are determined to teach their students about the Holocaust in a meaningful way, in many classrooms the Holocaust seems to be only a footnote of a history lesson.”

On Thursday, March 22, as part of the Belfer First Step Workshop,  Peter Black, senior historian at the USHMM, will deliver keynote remarks titled, “The Nazis Among Us: The Prosecution of Perpetrators Living in the USA.” The event takes place in the Student Union Ballroom from 4-6 p.m.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo and Christina Chavarria, program coordinator of the USHMM, will bring greetings and Judith Lynn Stillman, RIC’s artist-in-residence, will perform a musical interlude with two vocalists. The event is free and open to the public.

The second component of the Belfer First Step Workshop is on March 23 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Alger Hall 110. The multifaceted conference on Teaching the Holocaust is sponsored by the USHMM. Greetings will be delivered by Karen Castagno, associate dean for the Rhode Island College, Feinstein School of Education and Human Development.

A host of topics will be covered by experts in the field including Peter Black, senior historian of the USHMM, and May-Ronny Zeidman, executive director, Holocaust Education Center of Rhode Island. Presentations will also be made by Stieglitz, Alice Goldstein, a local Holocaust survivor, and Kathleen Pannozzi, RIC assistant professor of educational studies. In addition, two representatives of the Regional Education Corps of the USHMM will participate.

This workshop will provide students with reference materials such as The State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda and Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust and a flash drive produced by USHMM containing hundreds of photos, primary source documents and other curriculum materials.

Students from Rhode Island College, Johnson and Wales University, Providence College, Bridgewater State University and Salve Regina University have been invited to participate in this free conference. This event is not open to the public; members of the media are invited to attend.

“The Holocaust Museum has invested in RIC and put the materials in our hands to prepare our future teachers,” Pannozzi said.

Along with RIC, five other institutions were selected by the USHMM to participate in the Belfer First Step Workshop: Auburn University, CSU Long Beach, Illinois State University, St. Cloud State University, and the University of Northern Colorado.

The Belfer First Step Workshop is made possible by a grant from the Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Foundation, in partnership with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Holocaust Education and Resource Center of RI. 

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