The 2017 Schächter Institute in the Czech Republic
From May 14-21, The Defiant Requiem Foundation presented The 2017 Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities in the Czech Republic. The focus of this year’s Institute was to explore the Jewish history and heritage of the Czech Republic, while visiting refurbished and renovated historic synagogues and other buildings restored as part of the 10 Stars Revitalization project. Called The 10 Stars Tour, our group traveled from Prague most days to visit preserved “Jewish Monuments” in Jičín, Brandýs, Březnice, Pilsen, Nová Cerekev, Polná, Boskovice, Mikulov, and Úštĕk. Most of these small synagogues had not been used in over 75 years since the Jewish communities were deported. At several synagogues, we played music and danced and brought life back to these beautiful buildings after nearly 8 decades of silence.
The group explored the Jewish Quarter in Prague and met with members of the Jewish community in Brno and toured the Small Fortress and Ghetto in Terezin before attending its 2017 Commemoration Ceremony. The week concluded with a performance of Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer, the newest concert-drama created by Foundation President and Creative Director Murry Sidlin, on the grounds of Terezín in the historic riding academy.
Participants this year included nine Schächter Fellows – mostly educators or individuals working in Holocaust-related fields and who are committed to sharing the lessons of Terezín after the trip. Fellows are selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Ranging in age from 23 to 84, and from as far away as Turkey, this was most diverse class of Fellows ever! We were honored to have Fellow Eva Unterman on the trip who is a Terezín survivor and shared many of her personal stories and memories with us. Sponsorship for the program is generously provided by Foundation Board Member Nina Glasner and her husband, Sol, who joined us for the trip, and from the Frances C. Eizenstat Fund of The Defiant Requiem Foundation. Along with Glasners, Board members Tomáš Kraus, Marion Ein Lewin, and Board Chair Stuart Eizenstat also participated.
Our guide for the week was historian, researcher, and long-time Jewish activist, David Kraus, who provided insight and information from a variety of perspectives. Joining us to perform musical programs created specifically for each location were the members of Veretski Pass – Cookie Segelstein, Joshua Horowitz, and Stuart Brotman – who last performed with the Foundation as part of the 2011 Schächter Institute.
The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities is an annual series of events to honor the creative and scholarly activities of the prisoners in the Terezín. The Institute is typically held in the late spring or early summer and alternates between the Czech Republic and the U.S. every other year. The schedule and location for the 2018 Institute will be announced on the Foundation’s website www.defiantrequiem.org in the late fall.