This Year’s Holocaust Museum LA Gala Will Be Star-Studded, Virtual and a Call to Action – Jewish Journal

Posted By on October 21, 2020

In 1961, the Holocaust Museum LA became the first Holocaust museum founded by survivors. The museum became a forum for their artifacts and stories so that their history could be preserved and passed from generation to generation.

Fifty-nine years later, the museum (formerly Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust) is free to all and provides resources and testimonies and stages events honoring the legacies of those lost in the Shoah. Executive Director Beth Kean told the Journal that its undeniable that our community of survivors around the world is getting smaller, which is why it is paramount that Holocaust education continues in California, around the country and all over the world.

With the COVID-19 lockdown halting in-person learning opportunities, and with anti-Semitic threats on the rise, it might seem like an incongruous backdrop for the museums annual fundraising gala on Wednesday, Oct. 21, titled, 45 Minutes of Inspiration. Kean said they are using this time to inspire and empower community members to use their voice.

This years gala is a call to action for everyone to stand up and fight hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism, especially now, when we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents, she said. The Holocaust didnt happen in a vacuum. There was a culture of hatred and bigotry leading up to the crimes of the Holocaust. We know what can happen when hatred goes unchecked so its important for people to understand that the lessons of the Holocaust are still relevant to todays society. When hatred exists for any person based on their religious belief, color or creed, it creates an environment for bigotry to flourish. Were all, Jews and non-Jews, in a shared struggle to eradicate hate so we never allow the past to repeat itself.

This years gala is a call to action for everyone to stand up and fight hatred, bigotry, anti-Semitism, especially now, when we are seeing an increase in hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents. Beth Kean

This years event includes a lineup of famous and familiar faces. Hosted by TV personality Melissa Rivers, virtual attendees will see appearances by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Billy Crystal, Mayim Bialik, Tiffany Haddish, Jason Alexander, Beanie Feldstein, Gal Gadot, Josh Gad, Mona Golabek, Ben Platt, Marc Shaiman, Jack Black, Lior Raz, Ben Stiller, Richard Lewis, Paul Shaffer, Henry Winkler, Sydney Tamiia Poitier Heartsong and Anika Poitier to name a handful. Many of the guests share their familys Holocaust stories and condemn anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms.

We cannot be silent because silence is complicity, Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander said.

The event also will pay tribute to the recent anti-Semitic hate crimes that have taken place over the past three years including the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in 2018. Tree of Life Rabbi Chazzan Jeffrey Myer, State Sen. Ben Allen, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, member of British Parliament Daniel Finkelstein and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are slated to discuss the importance of the museum and the role government and communities can play in protecting Americans from violence and bigotry.

Celebrating its 10th year at the Pan Pacific Park location, the museum takes pride in its annual efforts to educate thousands of families, students and individuals. Before the pandemic, the museum welcomed more than 20,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students every year for Holocaust education programs. The museum currently has 68 volunteers who are survivors who continue to recount their testimonies on tours. Because school districts in Southern California have modified lesson plans for virtual learning, money raised at the gala will go toward reaching more than 30,000 students in Los Angeles through virtual initiatives.

Despite the pandemic, Kean said the museum has had a robust calendar of virtual programs such as weekly virtual survivor talks; virtual public programming including an Italian film series, book talks and a concert performed live from Krakow; the new Building Bridges series in partnership with community leaders from diverse backgrounds to discuss social issues; Inside the Acid Free Box, a series showcasing archived artifacts that tell fascinating stories of resistance and resilience; an outdoor art installation; countless virtual student tours; and its first fully virtual exhibit in partnership with the David Labkovski Project.

Photo by Tamara Leigh; courtesy of Holocaust Museum LA

Kean noted that all of the artifacts and information on display on the museum floor comprise only approximately 1% of the artifact collection. Survivors and their families have donated their artifacts to the museum over the years so that we can preserve their memories and legacies, she said. Kean said the most rewarding part of her job is hearing from guests how lives are changed forever by walking through our door. Partially because of the programming in place, Kean notes the reason people resonate with the museum is because of the survivors compelling testimonies. Upon entering the space, the first thing guests see is the Tree of Testimony, a permanent video sculpture connecting 51,000 survivor testimonies.

The world knows what we do about the Holocaust because of survivor testimony. Many of our programs are built around survivor engagement and dialogue, Kean said. In looking toward the future, we are investing time and energy into exploring digital avenues to preserve the memories and voices of our survivors. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been our growing library of testimony from our virtual survivor talks.

45 Minutes of Inspiration, will stream at 5:45 p.m. (PDT) Wednesday, Oct. 21. All proceeds will go toward the continuation of the museums education programs. Click here to register. For more information on how to become a volunteer or to access virtual museum resources, visit its website or join the mailing list. Follow the museum on Instagram @holocaustmuseumla and on Facebook.


This Year's Holocaust Museum LA Gala Will Be Star-Studded, Virtual and a Call to Action - Jewish Journal

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