By Matt Holzapfel
Elon University hosted play readings as part of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, April 24 at 12:15 P.M. in the McBride Gathering Space as part of the “National Jewish Theater Foundation’s Holocaust Theater International Initiative Remembrance Readings 2017 in honor of author Elie Wiesel.”
Elon joins other schools and organizations from around the country who will participate in the event simultaneously. Previously, all organizations involved read different pieces of literature on this day (the event started in 2015 and a complete list of participants and the plays that they read can be found here), this year, however, each organization that participates will be reading plays from author Elie Wiesel’s “Dialogs”, which contains a series of short plays.
Kim Shively is an Acting Professor in Elon’s Department of Preforming Arts and was responsible for organizing and bringing this event to Elon. “This is the first time Elon has participated (in this event). I saw an invitation for universities, theaters and organizations to participate on the ATHE website (Association of Theatre in Higher Education),” said Shively. “I immediately responded and began planning the event. Remembering the Holocaust is very important to me, and as an actor and teacher, I have been privileged to experience the power of theatre in exploring important themes in a very personal way. It is even more profound that we will be joining other theatres and synagogues and communities across the country in honoring Elie Wiesel and his considerable contributions to the world as an author and a playwright.”
Following the readings and reflections this afternoon, there was a panel discussion on “the importance of remembrance” with panelists Assistant Professor of History Andrea Sinn and Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life Rabbi Meir Goldstein. The panel will be moderated by Assistant Professor of Theatre Susanne Shawyer. “I love the way it connects people to one another,” Shively said of theatre. “I hope that the students and members of the Elon family will come together and honor the victims of the Holocaust. Remembering is such an important part of our human existence and at this particular moment in history, I think the lessons of the Holocaust are as relevant as ever. Many people paid too high a cost and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to find opportunities to ritualize remembrance and continue to learn the lessons from these defining events in our history.”
Elie Wiesel was born in Romania and was a Jewish-American writer, professor, and political activist. He wrote 57 books, including “Night”, which is an internationally acclaimed memoir based on his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In May 1944, the Nazis deported Wiesel, just 15 years old then, and his family to Auschwitz, a concentration camp located in Poland. Wiesel’s mother and the youngest of his three sisters all died while at Auschwitz. He and his father were later moved to another camp, Buchenwald, located in Germany, where Wiesel’s father died only a few months before the camp was liberated by Allied troops in April 1945. Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and spoke at Elon in April of 2004.
More information on the National Jewish Theater Foundation’s Holocaust Theater International Initiative Remembrance Readings can be found at www.njtfoundation.org/in_remembrance. For questions regarding the event, you can email Kim Shively at firstname.lastname@example.org.