The 2015 Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities
From May 13-17, The Defiant Requiem Foundation hosted the 2015 Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities which included events in both Terezín and Prague. The Institute’s mission is to honor the memory of the prisoners of Terezín by producing events that commemorate the profusion of artistic expression in the camp during WWII. Events open to the public during this year’s Institute included a guided tour of Prague focusing on the life of composer Gideon Klein which was led by David Fligg, Project Consultant, Performing the Jewish Archive, University of Leeds (UK). In Terezín, the Institute presented a moving one-woman performance entitled The Tin Ring with British actress Jane Arnfield. The play is an adaptation of Zdenka Fantlová’s book of the same name, and relates the true story of her deportation from Prague to Terezín, her ensuing struggles and ultimate survival. A concert of chamber music, including a number of works written by Terezín composers, was performed in the beautiful Mirror Chapel of the Clementinum in Prague with pianist Phillip Silver, cellist Noreen Silver, and members of Prague Modern. The Institute concluded with a performance of Murry Sidlin’s new concert-drama, Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer on May 17 following the commemoration exercises marking the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Terezín. Performed in the newly renovated riding academy at Terezín, the performance was enthusiastically received by a large audience of over 300 people including Czech government officials, the head of the Czech Jewish Communities, and officials from the Terezín Memorial.
The Foundation, along with Board Member Nina Glasner and her husband Sol, provided travel and lodging stipends to ten Fellows who travelled to the Czech Republic to experience Institute events and learn the story of Defiant Requiem. Most of the Fellows were social studies teachers in high school systems and universities in the U.S. who specialize in Holocaust education. In addition to the public events, the Fellows spent a day in the town of Lidice outside of Prague. Lidice was the scene of a heinous massacre of all males 15 years of age and older by the Nazis in June 1942 in retaliation for the car bombing of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. The Fellows also participated in several discussion sessions, viewed the Foundation’s documentary film Defiant Requiem with Terezín Survivor Felix Kolmer, toured the Old Jewish Quarter of Prague, toured Terezín with guide – and dear friend of the Foundation – Petra Pĕničková, and had lunch with Tomáš Kraus who is the head of the Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic.
We hope to hold the 2016 Institute in New York City in collaboration with the Czech Center and plan to return to the Czech Republic for Institute events in 2017.