On the last Friday of the month, I am participating in the We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB), in which we share a hopeful or peaceful story about humanity.
This month, I’m sharing this story, Holocaust Education: The Missing Piece, about the work of my new friend and sometime music partner, Dr. Margareta (Maya) Ackerman. I met her in the context of music at church. She sings, I play the violin, and we have performed together in services a couple of times. We’re getting together later today, in fact, to prepare for this Sunday’s service, called Faith and Hope after the Holocaust. We will be performing two Emily Dickinson poems set to music.
In addition to being a semi-professional soprano, Maya is a Holocaust educator and a professor of computer science at San Jose State. She has written a book, called Running from Giants, about her grandfather’s experiences as a child Holocaust survivor. When she speaks about the book, and in this service, the question she grapples with is how he retained his hope and faith after all he endured.
“Maybe this lesson on the strength of the human spirit will encourage teachers to cover Holocaust history more completely, instead of omitting the truly difficult, but essential parts of this dark spot in our history. Maybe, realizing humanity’s potential for resilience, and our capacity for joy and happiness no matter what comes our way, will help students find strength in their own lives.”
Maya and I performing the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria last Christmas, with pianist Libby Kardontchik (at UU Fellowship of Sunnyvale)