Program response has ‘been tremendous’

Program response has ‘been tremendous’

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More than 20,000 Quad-Citians are expected to see, hear and experience first-hand the various aspects of the ongoing Anne Frank/Holocaust programs by the time they conclude in May.

“We’ve had a tremendous response from the community and from the community organizations that are involved,” said Allan Ross, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad-Cities, which is leading the project.

Of those participating to date, more than half have been children, and that is one of the project’s primary aims, Ross said. A goal is to convey, particularly to children, that injustice, prejudice and bigotry continue in the world today and that there are ways to counter that, he added.

The effort began in January with an exhibit about The White Rose, a resistance group that opposed the Nazis, at the German American Heritage Center in Davenport, and it will continue through May 28 with the “Anne Frank: A History for Today” exhibit at the Putnam Museum, also in Davenport.

Three programs by author Susan Goldman Rubin will be presented Tuesday and Wednesday in Davenport and Bettendorf, respectively.

Admissions at the German American center during the two months the White Rose exhibit was in place totaled 2,109. “We received countless positive comments,” said Janet Brown-Lowe, the director of the center.

A Ballet Quad-Cities performance of the locally written Anne Frank ballet, “From the Pages of a Young Girl’s Life, was attended by more than 700 schoolchildren, director Joedy Cook said.

The Putnam expects to have about 15,000 students representing more than 240 schools visit the exhibit and participate in specific programs by the end of May, said Nichole Myles, vice president of education at the museum.

The Putnam also has hosted about 125 Brownie Scouts and expects to host about 400 adults through scheduled visits, including a lunch, a program and an exhibition overview.

“Our opening events were very, very strong,” Myles said. “We were privileged to have Eva Schloss, author, (Holocaust) survivor and stepdaughter of Otto Frank (Anne’s father) attend two openings.”

Schloss also spoke to 250 students and teachers at United Township High School in East Moline; to 300 students and faculty at Bettendorf High School after a performance of her play by the Augustana College Theater Group; to 800 students and faculty at North Scott High School, Eldridge; to 200 people at Augustana after a performance of her play; to 300 students and faculty at Assumption High School in Davenport after a performance of her play and to 200 people attending a senior citizen expo, Ross said.

At North Scott, “she spoke for 45 minutes with no pictures, no anything, and there was an incredible response,” said Chris Green, the coordinator of the school’s History Day project.

“She just captivated them with her story. And she related it to today, how it starts in little ways, with bullying and picking on people who are different. It was so powerful.

“The comments from students, teachers and administrators have been over the top. I do believe this experience will be written on their memories and hopefully in their hearts forever.”

The Figge Art Museum hosted an art exhibit and the screening of Holocaust-themed films, and there was an exhibit titled “Children of the Holocaust” by author and educator Barbara Powers at the Rock Island Public Library.

Powers also spoke at the library and at Rock Island’s Edison Junior High School.

More than 200 people attended a talk by Holocaust survivor Agnes Schwartz at the Tri-City Jewish Center during the annual Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Service.

Although the Jewish Federation provided leadership for many of the events, numerous groups were involved, including the German-American center, the Putnam, the Figge and the Holocaust Education Committee of the Greater Quad-City Area, an ongoing group of educators and volunteers. And many sponsors gave money to pay for the various programs.

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