Photo: Derek Black, Emmy Rossum and Gerda Weissmann Klein
At this historic time for reflection and action – members of the Western Region community supporting the efforts of the D.C.-based United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) will come together virtually on March 11 at 8 pm.
The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly changed much of how the USHMM does its work, but not why it’s done. Eric and Suzi LeVine, from Seattle, will represent the Western Region Leadership Committee and join Museum supporters from 10 western states including, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington to renew its pledge to ensure that the critical lessons of the Holocaust – lessons about the fragility of societies, the nature of hate, and the consequences of indifference – help shape our nation’s way forward.
The annual “What You Do Matters” Western Region Dinner normally held in Los Angeles and historically attracts up to 1,000 guests in-person, including many Holocaust survivors, will this year feature the theme of “Survival, Hope and Resilience” with special guests; compelling Holocaust testimonies from survivors and liberators told by celebrities Morgan Freeman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Camryn Manheim and Tim Matheson, among others; inspiring specialty music; and important messages about the museum’s role in these challenging times.
Emmy Rossum will emcee the “2021 Western Region Virtual Event.” Rossum has been captivating audiences with her varied and exceptional talents for more than a decade. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance as “Christine” in The Phantom of the Opera and starred in nine seasons of Showtime’s critically-acclaimed dark comedy series, “Shameless.” She has been an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism and bigotry in Hollywood.
Taking part in a special segment will be Gerda Weissmann Klein, Holocaust survivor, acclaimed author, humanitarian, subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary “One Survivor Remembers,” and 2010 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “One Survivor Remembers” relates the harrowing story of Klein and her journey of survival and remembering both before and after the war. Home Box Office and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum co-produced the documentary film, which was awarded both an Emmy and an Academy Award.
The USHMM’s “2021 Western Region Virtual Event” comes at a pivotal moment for the nation and the world. The Holocaust is a harsh reminder of the consequences of unchecked hatred and the fragility of societies. Its lessons have never been more relevant. Today, with an alarming rise in anti-Semitism, racism, and neo-Nazism, the country and its citizens must recommit themselves to learning those lessons. Derek Black, raised in a prominent white supremacist family, will talk about experiences that led him to renounce the white nationalist movement and inspire his current work of understanding and teaching the origins of race, racist ideologies and anti-Semitic beliefs.
In addition, conservatory students from The Ziering-Conlon Initiative for Recovered Voices at the Colburn School in Los Angeles will perform music from the museum’s collection, which is the world’s largest archive of Holocaust artifacts and materials.
“These challenging times compel us to present a program that initiates critical thinking, inspires self-reflection and motivates the community to create positive change,” said Marla Abraham, the museum’s director of the Western Regional Office. “We are grateful to have Emmy Rossum emcee our virtual event and recognize the significant work that the Western Region Leadership Committee put forth to make this non-traditional program deeply impactful. The event will be a memorable and powerful experience with appearances by Gerda Weissmann Klein, Derek Black and the musical performance by students from the Colburn School.”
The “2021 Western Region Virtual Event” is open to the public, but advance registration is required. Registrants will receive a link via email to access the program a day before the virtual event. Groups and individuals interested must register by March 10.