The Nazi Olympics” exhibit, which opened last week at the August Wilson Center, Downtown, and was brought to Pittsburgh through a joint venture of the center and the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, is a must-see.
But even more important than the exhibit were the words spoken at the Oct. 15 opening gala by interim center President Sala Udin and project Co-Chair Barbara Shapira.
Udin praised the cooperation of the Black and Jewish communities that brought the exhibit here (it is on loan from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.), calling the venture “the starting point for a larger conversation.”
Shapira agreed, stating in her remarks that the exhibit presents “a special opportunity to encourage dialogue.”
We agree, too, and we’re happy to note that the exhibit is the first in a series of cooperative events between the area Black and Jewish communities — both cultural and dialogue — in the coming year. The Chronicle will carry more details on those events in coming weeks.
But — and this is important — it can’t end there.
There are issues in this city on which Blacks and Jews can find common cause — fair housing, public transit, clean water, safe streets. Those are colorblind issues.
Some of our potential common issues are more global. Jewish Pittsburgh has been active in supporting Ethiopian Jews as they integrate into Israeli society. The Black community may be interested in supporting that cause. It’s worth exploring. We can also find common cause on Darfur — and do.
There are probably many more practical ways to cooperate that many of us haven’t even thought of — yet.
It wasn’t so long ago that our two communities publicly disagreed over the appearance of Louis Farrakhan in Pittsburgh; that was an aberration. Our two communities have more in common than we have disagreements. And what unites us is far more real and lasting than what divides us.
Pittsburgh Black and Jewish residents, working together, can be a powerful force for positive change, locally, nationally and globally. “The Nazi Olympics” exhibit is merely an example of what is possible. Here’s hoping that the work that went into this exhibit is the start of something truly productive for all of Greater Pittsburgh.