Touring Holocaust exhibit opens at Catholic school
A woman looks at “The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945” exhibit at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie last year. (Staff photo/Janeris Marte / May 15, 2012)
An exhibit of 200 Holocaust photographs, many never seen by the general public, opened at an unlikely place, a Catholic school.
“The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945″ opened on Aug. 28 in the Bienes Center for the Arts at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.
“We are privileged and delighted to have the exhibit here,” said Monsignor Vincent T. Kelly, supervising principal. Kelly called the Holocaust “an episode of culture gone into disarray” and “a blemish on our whole human experience.”
The school arranged to host the exhibit through the Archdiocese in Miami. Catholics must “make a contribution to the awareness of the extremes the Jewish people suffered at that time,” Kelly said. He said the photo exhibit was chosen because “a verbal story or a written story is inadequate.”
St. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic schools teach students about the Holocaust as part of the curriculum but not in classes devoted solely to the Holocaust, as public schools in Florida do.
The exhibit can contribute to better Catholic-Jewish relations, Kelly said. “We all have to walk the same journey and assist each other.”
Alfred Balitzer, chairman of the Foundation for California which supports the exhibit as it travels around the United States and to other countries, said a teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas attended the opening of the exhibit at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie in May 2012 and told the Archdiocese about it.
Balitzer said St. Thomas students will visit the exhibit, which is open to the public at no charge.
“We were looking for non-Jewish venues,” he said. “We want to see Holocaust education in the non-Jewish community.”
Ted Gover, Foundation for California executive director, said St. Thomas Aquinas is only the second Catholic high school to show the exhibit. The other school is in California, he said.
“I think it’s very positive,” Gover said. “The lessons of the Holocaust are universal. They don’t just apply to Jews. They apply to people of all backgrounds.” It is important for other communities to have an understanding of the Holocaust to learn its lessons, he said.
“The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945,” one of two identical exhibits currently in Florida, will close at the Bienes Center on Sept. 19 and then go to Atlanta.
“The Courage to Remember: The Holocaust 1933-1945” can be viewed at the Bienes Center for the Arts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibit will be closed on Sept. 2, Labor Day.