by George J Elbaum
The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) exhibit, Tour and Talk: Resilience, Holocaust, and the Architecture of Life, asks the question: “How do we move forward from the past while vowing to never forget?” The architecture of The CJM is a testament to history and resilience: it is a celebration of life and strength designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, a child of Holocaust survivors, with deeply embedded Jewish symbolism and meaning. A first-hand testimony by a Holocaust survivor (me on this day) is at the heart of this 2 ½ hour Museum experience, which includes an exploration of the symbolism of The CJM’s architecture through the lens of resilience and artistic reflection.
This is the second year of CJM’s program of student tours, which are paired with talks by Holocaust survivors arranged with the Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS). These talks offer the students a unique opportunity to connect art, architecture, and history, to humanize historical events and cultivate empathy and to strengthen links between past and present, and it is the third time that I have spoken as part of this program. Today’s participants were high school students from Roberto Cruz Leadership Academy in San Jose, CA. After my talk CJM’s Museum Educator, Lisa Rosenberg, led the students on an exploration of the symbolism of the CJM architecture followed by a hands-on project related to memory.
Today’s event was organized by Cara Buchalter, CJM’s Tour & Education Associate, and my participation was arranged by JFCS’s Program Coordinator, Nikki Bambauer