by Mary Eshet
This month’s new moon marks the end of the Jewish month of Tishrei and the start of Cheshvan. Just a few short weeks ago, we wished and prayed for a sweet new year. Instead, we seem plunged into darkness like the moonless sky.
Cheshvan, the second month of the year, is also known as Marcheshvan. “Mar” means “bitter” in Hebrew, and this year it feels like the full name is appropriate. As we watch tragic world events, it is difficult to find hope and light.
At the Stan Greenspon Center, we take time to mourn, to connect with loved ones, and to pray. And then we continue on our path to offer education on the Holocaust and Social Justice, and to advocate for humanity – because this work is even more important today than it was just a few days ago.
We are working with others in the community to offer a meaningful Kristallnacht program commemorating the 85th anniversary of the pogroms and destruction of Jewish homes and businesses that swept Nazi Germany and marked an inflection point in antisemitism that progressed into the atrocities of concentration camps. We hope you can join us on November 12 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm in the Sarah Belk Gambrell Center at Queens University.
We have launched our second cohort of teachers in our Certification in Holocaust Pedagogy program, equipping educators to teach about this sensitive and crucial history so that we will never forget.
We’ve hosted book discussions of Isabel Wilkerson’s award-winning book Caste where we participated in rich discussions about racism in the U.S. and the relationship of Jim Crow laws with Nazi Germany.
Our Fall Signature class, “Histories in Conversation: Nazi Germany and Jim Crow America,” continues that discussion as we examine the laws and history that created systemic racism, inequity, and inhumanity.
We are continuing to plan for our most ambitious effort of our 2023-2024 program year: bringing the powerful exhibit “Seeing Auschwitz” to Charlotte. This remarkable exhibit comprises a collection of 100 photographs of the camp that have survived to the present day, with an audio guide that includes testimonies from survivors. The exhibit will be at the VAPA Center in uptown Charlotte January 26 – April 25, 2024.
These efforts had meaning and importance when we began planning for them months ago. Now, they have a relevance and urgency that we fervently wish were not so.
It is said that Marcheshvan is bitter because it marks the beginning of the dark, rainy season in Israel. It is also the month in which the great flood of Noah occurred.
Marcheshvan is also the month in which the flood of Noah ended a year later. The message of Marcheshvan is that despite the darkness, there is future growth that awaits us. It is hard to see that future in this moment, but here at the Greenspon Center we continue to plant the seeds of education and justice and hope you will join us. As the moon waxes and the night becomes lighter, we hope for better days and peace.