Warhol, PSO Join Federation’s Holocaust Center for Yom Hashoah

Warhol, PSO Join Federation’s Holocaust Center for Yom Hashoah

“Painted Over Fear” by Mary Clare O’Connor, Fox Chapel High School, Grade 9
“Painted Over Fear” by Mary Clare O’Connor, Fox Chapel High School, Grade 9

The Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are partnering with the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for the city’s 2014 observance of Yom Hashoah.

Events are scheduled at both venues throughout the weekend of April 26-27 in an effort to raise community awareness of the horror that was the Holocaust; to remember those who were brutally murdered by the Nazis; and to honor the survivors as well as those who risked their lives to save others.

Yom Hashoah begins the evening of Sunday, April 27, and concludes Monday night after sundown.

“A Night at the Warhol,” a free social gathering for young adults who are over 21 years old, will begin at 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Guests will enjoy an open bar and snacks while they decorate penny collection boxes using a silk-screen method developed by Andy Warhol, according to Jennie Pelled, development and program associate at the Holocaust Center. The boxes will be used as part of the 6 Million Pennies Project, a three-county effort to collect six million coins to demonstrate the enormity of the number of Jews slaughtered during the Shoah. The project was initiated by Holocaust Center volunteer Roger Smith earlier this year.

Residents of Allegheny, Lawrence and Mercer counties have been very responsive to the 6 Million Pennies Project, and have already donated more than 60 percent of the coins necessary to reach the goal of 6 million to be collected by April 26, Pelled said.

“It’s really inspiring to see the containers everywhere,” Pelled said. “And whenever I pick them up, they’re pretty full.”

On Sunday, April 27, the teen winners of the Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition will be honored beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Warhol. The winning works will be displayed throughout the lobby of the museum, and local area teens will be invited to decorate penny boxes.

The six student-created short films that were submitted to the contest will also be screened.

The Holocaust-themed contest was open to students throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, as well as students from Pittsburgh’s Partnership2Gether sister city of Karmiel and the Misgav region in Israel, said Pelled.

The Israeli winners of the competition were awarded a trip to Pittsburgh, and five of them will be present at the awards ceremony on April 27.

Local winners of the contest were awarded scholarships to further their studies in either Holocaust education, or in the artistic medium in which they submitted their contest entries, Pelled said.

On Sunday night, April 27, Heinz Hall will host a communitywide Yom Hashoah commemoration titled “Remembering Through Music,” and featuring a string quartet of PSO musicians Noah Bendix-Balgley, Jennifer Ross, Tatjana Mead Chamis, and David Premo.

The evening will also feature a memorial candle-lighting ceremony by six local Holocaust survivors. Hannah Kovanic, a survivor from Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, will share her story of being forced to hide in the woods from Nazis, being discovered, and then being sent to Terezin/Theresienstadt,a camp outside of Prague. 

Other local survivors participating in the program include Harry Drucker, Albert Farhy, Solange Lebovitz, Isadore Small and Cantor Moshe Taube, who will be singing during the program.

Additional candles, in honor of the righteous, the liberators, and musicians and artists, will be lit by: Thomas Usher, chair of Marathon Petroleum Corporation; Jim Rohr, former chair/CEO of PNC Financial Services Group Inc.; and William E. Kassling, lead director of Wabtec Corporation.

Melodia and Harmonia of Pittsburgh School for the Choral Arts will perform “The Partisan Song.”

While the Heinz Hall event is free and open to the public, a ticket is required to attend, according to Samantha Chilton, senior associate at the Holocaust Center. Tickets are going fast, Chilton said, and can be obtained by contacting her at 412-421-1500, or schilton@jfedpgh.org.

Other Yom Hashoah events at the Warhol include a performance of the play “Voices of the Holocaust,” based on  interviews with survivors that were conducted by Dr. David Boder in 1946-1947 in Europe. The play will be performed on Saturday, April 26, at 1 p.m.

A klezmer concert featuring Suzanne Ortner-Roberts and Walt Mahovlich will be performed at the Warhol at 6 p.m., also on Saturday, April 26.

A traveling mixed media exhibit aimed to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust called “Lest We Forget,” will be displayed at the Warhol throughout the week.

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at tobyt@thejewishchronicle.net.)

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