On Thursday, Sept. 22 the Jewish American Studies program sponsored an event in honor of Holocaust survivors in the Jed Leshowitz Recital Hall of the John J. Cali School of Music. The event was called Songs of the Holocaust and featured songs written by victims of the Holocaust, the artists themselves perished during the war. The composer of the piece, Norbert Glanzberg, was a Holocaust survivor as well and became a renowned composer after World War II.
The performer of this heart-breaking and emotional piece was Rachel Joselson, an internationally renowned opera singer and an associate professor at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Joselson was accompanied by the pianist Rene Lecuona, professor and co-chair of the piano area at the University of Iowa. Together they told the story of inmates in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt, a camp where an unusually—high number of artists and musicians were deported. The songs express the hardships the inmates had to endure as well as the longing of seeing their family members again.
At the start of the event, the chairperson of the department of religion, Dorothy Rogers, read out short biographies of some of the Holocaust survivors that were present. One harrowing story of survival was of Gina Lanceter. When she was loaded into a cattle car with her family, her mother told her to jump through the window of the car. Her father’s final words from the cattle car were, “You must survive. You must tell others!”
Danne Davis, an associate professor of early childhood, elementary and literacy education, said that she came to the event because she is working with Holocaust educators to come up with ways to teach children about the Holocaust. “The arts is one way, and a very influential way, to teach such heavy learning materials,” said Davis.
She added that she supports the idea of cultural events such as Songs of the Holocaust at Montclair State. “The fact that the university is letting these people perform here and make use of the space and talent is great. That is what universities should be doing.”