One small act

Recently I stumbled on a 2009 HBO documentary film directed by Jennifer Arnold, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival — an annual homage to independent film held in Park City, Utah. (Its next run is Jan 20-30, 2011.)

A Small Act” follows the ripple effect of two individuals whose lives have been touched by genocide — Holocaust survivor Hilde Back of Sweden and Chris Mburu of Kenya.

It’s a film every teen, parent and teacher in America needs to see.

My own daughter, Jennifer, has long championed social justice, and shared with me last night that she is planning a visit to the Jewish History Museum in Tucson with her longtime friend Brenna for the museum’s Centennial Celebration on Oct 24.

The event starts at noon with a street festival featuring “live music from Klezmer to clarinet.” At 2pm, a century-old time capsule buried in the foundation of a historic synagogue will be “opened to reveal its secrets for all to see.”

The Centennial Exhibit, featuring “a history of the Southwest Jewish pioneers,” is currently open and runs through Dec 23. The collection includes a Holocaust-surviving Torah.

Next weekend, on Oct 9, the museum will host an opening reception for its Temple of Shadows — a photographic exhibit of the synagogue’s history.

When my children (now 17 to 21) were much younger, we enjoyed an afternoon at the Sylvia Plotkin Judaica Museum in Scottsdale. The museum, which was founded in 1976 at Temple Beth Israel in Phoenix, features “a full program of exhibits, events and activities” that “offers all audiences a unique insight into the 5000 years of Jewish culture.

A Biblical Garden adjacent to the museum, which features “ancient plants mentioned in the bible,” is a charming place to share a quiet picnic or enjoy a bit of peaceful reading.

To learn about other local opportunities to explore Jewish culture, visit the website for the Arizona State University Center for Jewish Studies — which is partnering this season with The Phoenix Symphony to present a “series of lectures, films and discussions around the Valley, linking the musical presentations to the cultural and historical themes of assimilation, modernization, destruction and remembrance.”

I’ll spotlight their collaboration, and the various works they’re presenting, in a future post — but suggest you visit their website to learn about several events taking place this week, including the first concert in their Rediscovered Masters Concert Series (Oct 7-9).

I’ve already ‘saved the date’ for the Feb 16, 2011 Composers in the Concentration Camp performance at ASU Gammage on ASU’s Tempe campus — where “musicians from the Arizona State University School of Music will join local singers for this concert led by the renowned conductor Maestro Israel Yinon” (who has dedicated his career to recording and performing the works of Jewish composers).

The University of Arizona Center for Judaica Studies presents lectures open to the public, which are held at the Tuscon Jewish Community Center.

Tomorrow, Oct 4, Zev Garber (professor and chair of Jewish Studies at Los Angeles Valley College) presents “Shoah at the University: New Considerations in Holocaust Education.”

Watch for upcoming posts featuring additional opportunities to explore art related to the Holocaust.

And never forget the power of one small act.


Note: The Center for Jewish Studies at Arizona State University is holding a “Resistance through Art in the Holocaust” essay contest for high school students. Click here to learn more.

Coming up: Perspectives on playwriting