The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities

Hosted by The Defiant Requiem Foundation, The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities is an annual series of events to honor the creative activities of the prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezín) during WWII. In an environment that was designed to deprive prisoners of their basic human rights and dignity, these prisoners – many of whom were talented scholars, artists, writers, musicians, and actors who were rounded-up from all over Eastern Europe – found their spiritual freedom and courage by giving over 1,500 lectures on every conceivable subject, creating and performing music and theater, and teaching and inspiring their fellow prisoners to remember life before the Camp. Talented individuals like Rafael Schächter worked diligently to choose life when surrounded by the constant presence of death, disease, malnutrition, medical neglect, and intentional murder. Their evening hours spent immersed in the arts and humanities were, in the words of Rabbi Leo Baeck, “hours of freedom.”

The Schächter Institute is not a center of Holocaust studies, but an institute of learning intended to commemorate the “accidental university” that the prisoners created at Terezín.  The Institute is held every other year in the Czech Republic, with alternative years held in the U.S. The Institute is typically held in the late spring or early summer and is comprised of approximately 4-6 artistic and scholarly events held over a weeklong period. The events presented include theater and musical performances, film screenings, and lectures. The Foundation offers stipends for students, teachers, and others engaged in Holocaust study to attend the Institute when it occurs in the Czech Republic.