My husband said, “Don’t bring up the attack on the Capitol! No one wants to read about that on your blog.” But when I saw a man wearing a sweatshirt with large bold letters that read “Camp Auschwitz” and remembered how 1.1 million people were put to their death at Auschwitz, I knew I could not ignore the breaching of our nation’s Capitol. The hatred, bigotry and anti-semitism of the mob reminded me of what can happen when those performing hateful and violent acts are not held accountable for their intolerance and left to roam freely.
Soon after writing this first paragraph of my blog I heard a moving statement from former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his reaction to the attack on the Capitol. He compared the broken glass of the windows of the United States Capital to the 1938 rampage against the Jews during Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) and equated the Proud Boys to Nazis (Click here to view his statement). His sentiments reinforced my own purpose to fight hatred, bigotry and anti-semitism by keeping the songs written by Jews in the Jewish Ghettos during World War II ever present and visible in the eyes of the public.
While the pandemic rages on and in person events are at a standstill, I am excited to share how my next project is evolving. Several of the newly composed arrangements that I commissioned Jewish composers to create, will be featured in a 30 minute video I am producing. Through historical photos and archival footage, the documentary style video will take you onto the streets of the Jewish ghettos and allow you to know what life was like for the Jewish people trying to survive their harsh and oppressive environment. The music and words you hear will be that of well known Jewish composers and writers, many of whom were later murdered by the Nazis. As family members disappear from ghetto streets, the sound of pain and desperation of unspeakable loss begins to emerge through both their music and poetry.
My goal is to place this video in the screening rooms of Holocaust museums, have it as required or supplemental viewing for all junior and highschool students as they learn about tolerance and the holocaust, and potentially even submit it to Jewish film festivals.
This is no doubt a big undertaking for me. I’m very lucky and excited to be working with an amazing technical director and editor to help me bring this vision to life. I also decided to reach out to those in the professional world that have an expertise in honoring stories from the Holocaust and bringing them to life. One of these people is my college friend and professional pianist Mona Golebek who has her own successful one-woman show called “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” and non-profit “Hold on to Your Music Foundation”. Mona has been a guiding light for me. She has been generously sharing with me her expertise and giving me both encouragement and practical strategies to get this project off the ground. To make this dream become a reality, Mona has generously offered to be my non-profit umbrella so that I can apply for grants and receive tax deductible donations to fully fund this project.
As the events on the Capitol steps continue to highlight the hatred and racism that exist in our country, I will continue to perform the songs of Jewish composers and writers that were murdered at the hands of Nazis; a clear reminder of the dangers of white supremacy and the violence that can ensue when left unchecked. Next blog: How you can help keep the stories and music alive.