January 23, 2020

By Joseph Zwilling and Mercedes Anderson


THE SHEEN CENTER is joining the MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day for a talk titled AUSCHWITZ: REMEMBERING OUR WAYS FORWARD with curator Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt this Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 3pm in The Sheen Center’s Loreto Theater. The talk by Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt is an unprecedented look at one of history’s darkest chapters as presented in the groundbreaking exhibition currently showing at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, AUSCHWITZ. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.

Auschwitz was a complex of 48 concentration and extermination camps which took the lives of over 1 million Jews and tens of thousands of others during the Second World War. Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt has accomplished the momentous and timely task of assembling the most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the history of Auschwitz and its role in the Holocaust ever presented in America. The exhibition brings together more than 700 original artifacts and over 400 photographs collected from over 20 institutions and museums around the world to tell a story that is perhaps more relevant today than ever before as firsthand accounts become increasingly more scarce. Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt will present the process of curating such a comprehensive exhibition, examine the significance of the pieces chosen, and will be joined by a panel, following his presentation, to discuss the timeliness of such an exhibition in light of the rise of anti-Semitic attacks and related rhetoric and violence in our culture today.

The event, which takes place on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, will consist of a presentation on the exhibition by Dr.  Robert Jan van Pelt, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik. Musicians Vitor Gonçalves (accordion) and Sam Sadigursky (clarinet) will perform musical excerpts from Sam Sadigursky’s Solomon Diaries between Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt’s presentation and the panel. The event will conclude with an audience Q&A.

Members of the press interested in covering or attending are asked to RSVP by emailing Mercedes Anderson at [email protected]. Tickets are available to the general public at  https://www.sheencenter.org/shows/auschwitz/

“Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise around the country, leaving members of the Jewish community feeling frightened and unsafe. In New York City, anti-Semitic crimes have jumped 21 percent in the past year. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1,879 incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States in 2018, including more than 1,000 instances of harassment.” – The Washington Post, December 29, 2019

“Such acts must be condemned completely and without reservation as totally contrary to everything that people of faith stand for. An attack on any individual or group because of his or her religious beliefs is an attack on us all.  This hatred has no place in our city, state, or nation, or anywhere else on our planet.”  Excerpt from Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s statement following the anti-Semitic attacks in Monsey, New York   

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik is the Executive Vice President of The New York Board of Rabbis, the largest interdenominational rabbinic body in the world. Presently Rabbi Emeritus, he has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights since 1972. A Chaplain of the New York Fire Department and a former member of the New York Human Rights Commission, Rabbi Potasnik is committed to ensuring the security of all Jewish people and to combatting the violence plaguing this country.

Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt is one of the main authorities on the history of Auschwitz. From 1997-98, he presided over the team that developed the master plan to preserve the Auschwitz camp and participated as an expert witness in the famous case against the British historian and author David Irving (London, 1998-2001), a Holocaust denier. Dr. Van Pelt, born in Haarlem (Netherlands), has published widely on the camp, including the award-winning Auschwitz, 1270 to the Present (1996) and The Case for Auschwitz (2002). Throughout his career, he has served as a historical advisor on films such as Auschwitz: The Nazis and ‘The Final Solution’ (2005) by Laurence Rees, and co-curated The Evidence Room, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2016

Sam Sadigursky (clarinet) lives in New York and likes to play with people like Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau, Darcy James Argue, Matt Mitchell, Pablo Mayor, Jamie Baum, Gabriel Kahane, Lucia Pulido, and many others. He’s released four albums of his own music for New Amsterdam Records, a collaborative album with Laurent Coq called Crosswords, and Follow the Stick for BJU Records. He was recently named a Rising Star on clarinet by Downbeat Magazine, and was most recently the onstage clarinetist for the Broadway show The Band’s Visit, which won ten Tony Awards and the Grammy for their cast recording.

THE SHEEN CENTER FOR THOUGHT & CULTURE is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. The arts center of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful.  Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.