The first exhibit about the Holocaust displayed in Cuba opened on December 18 at the Centro Sephardi (Sephardic Center) in Havana. The exhibit, “We Remember – The Holocaust and the Creation of a Living Community,” shines a light on the Cuban Jewish experience of the Holocaust and raises awareness that a small Jewish community makes Cuba its home.
“The opening of this exhibit marks a very important moment for the Cuban Jewish community,” said Mayra Levy, the President of the Sephardic Center. “We welcome this exhibit which focuses on the origins of the Cuban Jewish community and the impact of the Holocaust. We also welcome our fellow Cubans and visitors to our island learning more about our community today.”
We Remember examines the history of the Cuban Jewish community prior to and during World War II. This multi-media experience documents key periods in the history of the Cuban Jewish community and illustrates the impact of the Holocaust on the community and Jewish communities worldwide. Throughout We Remember, video clips of refugees who arrived in Cuba to escape the Nazi regime provide firsthand accounts of their personal experiences, and a one-hour video features testimony of Holocaust survivors’ experiences during the war in Europe.
The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Jewish Cuba Connection, all Los Angeles-based organizations, partnered on this project and Conscious Display, an exhibit design company in San Diego, designed the exhibit.
“The Nazis sought to destroy Jewish lives and extinguish Jewish Life,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The honor of affixing a Mezuzah on the entrance to this exhibit at Havana’s Sephardic Center and being able to declare Am Yisrael Chai, together with young and old Cuban Jews, is proof that Jewish solidarity and continuity will forever outlast the genocidal goals of the Nazis.”
We Remember features video testimony clips from the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s archive, which contains nearly 52,000 videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. The testimonies were collected in 56 countries and 32 languages. In addition, narrative and photographs from The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Courage to Remember exhibition were utilized in the development of “We Remember.”
“Memories of the Holocaust are woven into local histories throughout the world,” Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, said. “They tell a human story that crosses every national, ethnic, religious, and ideological barrier. In telling the story we draw closer to one another. The Institute is proud to contribute testimony to We Remember, an exhibit that explores the history of the Holocaust and Cuban history. The Sephardic Center of Havana is to be commended for its powerful message of remembrance and hope.”
Said Stan Falkenstein, President of the Jewish Cuba Connection, “Missions from around the world who come to Havana will find this exhibit to be a highlight of their visit. This exhibit serves several important functions: it shines the light on an important story; highlights the presence of a Jewish community in Cuba; and helps Cubans learn about an important part of Cuban Jewish history. While all Jewish Cubans proudly state that they and their families never experienced Anti-Semitism, we also can know with certainty that most of their fellow Cubans never heard of the Shoah. The opening of this exhibit will change that so that the lessons of tolerance and the need to be vigilant against all forms of discrimination will not be lost to history.
We Remember – The Holocaust and the Creation of a Living Community was funded by an anonymous donor and will be permanently housed at Centro Sephardi in Havana. Guests are welcome to visit.
For more go to the original report at http://dornsife.usc.edu/vhi/news/3387