Construction Brings Life to Mapping Our Tears Project - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Construction Brings Life to Mapping Our Tears Project

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Monday, June 2, 2003

CINCINNATI- The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is proud to announce that the final stage of construction for Mapping Our Tears is nearing completion. The exhibition resembles an attic full of fascinating memorabilia and has rapidly taken on life and character on the Gallery level of the Skirball Museum located in Mayerson Hall on the HUC-JIR campus. The construction will be completed this summer, ready to open its doors in the new school year to thousands of visitors.

An impressive team of experts was assembled to create this unique exhibition that is uplifting instead of somber. The award-winning Cincinnati-based firm of Jack Rouse Associates is the creative designers for the exhibition. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work on a project like this,” said Jack Rouse, CEO of Jack Rouse Associates. “The courage displayed by these survivors, as well as their love and compassion has touched all of the designers and producers here at JRA. We must never forget these stories.”

The Columbus firm SOS, headed by Jeff Scheiman, is responsible for the videography. Kesher of the Inclusion Network has approved all aspects of the design for accessibility.

Mapping Our Tears is a permanent, interactive, environmental theatre that resembles a 1930’s European attic. The heart of the exhibit focuses on testimonies of local Holocaust survivors, refugees, rescuers, and liberators. The attic also contains stories on the thematic values of love, loss, and courage experienced by local Holocaust survivors, and a computer corner. It is an engaging learning environment that approaches the Holocaust through the eyes of Jews and non-Jews addressing issues of social injustice and moral concerns.

The testimonies of the survivors are presented in pairs. All action is totally generated by the survivors’ stories. Their stories, the lighting, sounds, and artifacts act together to tell their testimony. The lights and sounds make the attic come alive. For example, the testimony of Roma Kaltman, a teen in Poland when the war broke out, features an armoire like the one she hid in as she tried to escape the transport to Auschwitz. “This aspect of what Tom Brokaw described as the Greatest Generation has never been told in such a compelling way,” said Dr. Racelle Weiman, Director of The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. “These are stories about intense acts of personal faith, hope, drive, perseverance, triumph of survival, rescue, and renewal. Most of these almost-lost stories are revealed to the public for the very first time.”

The exhibit will evolve as additional testimonies are gathered. Future stories include those told by liberators and rescuers.

Mapping Our Tears is made possible through the generous support of our Founding Benefactors: Cinergy, the parent company of CG&E, Federated Department Stores, Inc., Frisch’s Restaurant, Inc., The Kroger Company, Procter & Gamble Company, Time Warner Cable, and US Bank. “This project is a tribute to the power and esteem of the survivor’s testimony,” said Gail Mermelstein, Project Director. The exhibition will serve as the focal point and catalyst for educational workshops, teaching curriculum, school and civic programming. The exhibit will also be a valuable resource for families and for the region that extends far beyond Cincinnati. It is a model for other communities worldwide. For more information about Mapping Our Tears call The Center at 513-221-1875 ext. 355 or email A ceremonial opening is planned for the beginning of the school year.

The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is an education and community resource center located on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. It offers workshops, professional training seminars, and graduate courses. Teaching Holocaust Studies from academic and theological perspectives, The Center promotes tolerance and social justice in a broad range of civic and cultural concerns. Mapping Our Tears is located in the Skirball Museum in Mayerson Hall on the HUC-JIR campus, located at 3101 Clifton Avenue in Cincinnati, OH.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.