MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR SPRING/SUMMER 2009
EVENT UPDATE: I will be appearing at the Aish Center in Bala Cynwyd on July 29th at 8:30 PM. Further details on the Upcoming Events page
Everything is in bloom, and with it come the excitement of new beginningsâ€”for the earth, for the country, for each of us.
In this note, we have a new student focused initiative, inspired by Elie Wiesel (see below), new chapters published, news and a powerful poem from a listener:
Coming up for Eyes from the Ashes are appearances and exhibitions in Philly, NYC, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, South Carolina, Denver and in 2011, an exhibition in Texas. Details about each venue will be added, as time gets closer.
In 2009, my chapter on “Personalizing History Through Photographs” (p. 31-45) was published in The Resistance to Genocide, a Japanese publication edited by Akio Kimura of Kanagawa University, Japan, which originated as a result of my speech in Sarajevo, on “Remaining Human in the face of Inhumanity.”
Furthermore, my chapter, “The Landscape of Memory” was published by Purdue University Press in honor of Zev Garber, edited by Rabbi Professor Steve Jacobs in “Maven in Blue Jeans“. This volume included essays by John Roth, Peter Haas Richard Rubenstein, Father John Pawlilowski, Michael Berenbaum, Rick Libowitz.
Together with beautiful letters, I was blessed with the re-discovery of a moving poem, written some years ago by Israeli professor and poet, Hanoch Guy, when he first saw the photos and heard the story of the Last Album – even before there was a Last Album (i.e., before the book was published).
I share it now with you, with both deep thanks to Hanoch for his gift of this poem, and great appreciation for the power of his words:
“Eyes from the Ashes”
For Ann Weiss
By Hanoch Guy
Eyes from the ashes analyzed radioactively
In fossil beds by paleontologists.
Eyes and ashes piling up,
Citadels of ancient cities.
Eyes from the ashes
Collecting dust on shelves
In rusting locked shed in Poland.
Eyes from the ashes
Filed meticulously in past war archives.
Classified by diameter and focus.
Eyes from the ashes forgotten,
For fifty two years
On snowy peaks of the Carpathian Mountains.
Melting and flowing into Europe’s streams and rivers.
Eyes and ashes hovering in
Swarming clouds over Europe.
Ashes separating, spreading over Poland fields.
Eyeless ashes, polluting the German country side.
Eyes alone floating in the
Vacuums of the world.
Ashless eyes sinking.
Becoming entombed in the
Belly of the earth
Which does not reject
Even one of them
Finally, I just returned from two incredible events – one in DC, one in NYC. Both have inspired me greatly, and I’ll share a taste with you.
Pete Seeger at 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden
Bruce Springsteen honoring Pete Seeger
Joan Baez honoring Pete Seeger
New York City – Madison Square Garden Pete Seeger turned 90 in May, and his friends (including Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Arlo Guthrie, Ani DeFranco, and many others) paid tribute not only to Pete’s birthday, but most importantly, to the goodness, commitment, honesty and unwavering sense of ethics that Pete has symbolized for his entire life. Inspired by Pete – who was a lifelong friend of my dear friend and equally inspiring mentor, Tony Schwartz – I will be dedicating exhibitions this year to Pete, in honor of his 90th birthday.
Flags of the armies that liberated concentration camps
Elie Wiesel speaking at Days of Remembrance, Washington, DC
President Obama speaks, with Elie Wiesel looking on
Annâ€™s reunion with book signing staff at US Holocaust Museum
Washington, D.C. I was privileged to attend the National Commemoration of the Holocaust at the Rotunda of the Capital, with members of Congress, Supreme Court, survivors, liberators and others. Because the keynote speaker was President Obama, security was extremely high, and tickets particularly restricted. In addition to a moving speech by Obama, the “warm-up” act was Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, who affirmed:
“There are certain things you cannot do, and still remain human. Our community [of survivors] is decreasing daily. For killers, it was human to be inhuman. I believe that every day we must choose life and children grow up with a smile. Even on the edge of the abyss, it is possible to dream exalted dreams. Even in exile, friendship will come. I still believe in language, even if it has been corrupted by the enemy. I still believe in the future.”
He concluded with these words:
“For the dead, it is too late.
For the children, it is not too late.
For the children, for ALL the children, it is not too late.”
Elie affirmed our need to cherish and protect ALL children. In this vein, whenever I am brought to give a speech, open an exhibition, or whatever, I will make it a priority to meet with students in challenged schools and will arrange special programs, events, learning experiences that will heighten their thinking and expand their view of the world. When I spoke in Indianapolis’ largest urban high school, or a rural school in the Aryan Nation headquarters vicinity, we touched minds – Not a sound was heard, no one moved, even when the dismissal bell rang. And in Hawaii, when I spoke to an economically depressed school where no outside speaker had come for over 10 years, kids even cut class so they could hear more stories, and stayed after school to talk.
Help me as I launch a new initiative to raise funds to sponsor special programs for students in needy districts, and to develop programs designed especially for them. These programs will not only emphasize tolerance, but will go much further toward increasing understanding, and heightening the sense of humanity we all share.
Many thanks, and many good wishes to you,
Updated May 5, 2009