We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance, and Hope
By: Paulanne Simmons
June 11, 2020: At this time of protest and pandemic, not much attention has been paid to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt both anniversaries speak to the challenges of the current moment. And several organizations are attempting to remind us of this.
These organizations are Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust; National Yiddish Theatre, Folksbiene; Sing for Hope, which brings arts-based hope, healing, and connection to people in hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and transit hubs; and Lang Lang International Music Foundation, dedicated to igniting children’s passion for music.
On Sunday, June 14, at 2 PM ET, these organizations will present “We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance, and Hope,” a star-studded concert event that will be livestreamed at http://www.wearehere.live/ by a network of more than 100 national and international organizations.
The first 90 minutes of the event will feature a variety of artists from different backgrounds, from comedian/actors Jackie Hoffman and Whoopi Goldberg to opera singers Julia Bullock and Isabel Leonard. Renée Fleming will sing the premiere of a new work by the Pulitzer, Grammy and Oscar award-winning composer John Corigliano.
Following the concert, The Forward Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren will interview Nancy Spielberg, Roberta Grossman, and Sam Kassow, creators of the film Who Will Write Our History. The film chronicles the story of Oneg Shabbat, the group of people who risked their lives to make sure the witnesses of the atrocities were the ones who wrote the history.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began on April 19, 1943, when the incarcerated Jews, who had built bunkers and smuggled weapons and explosives into the ghetto, refused to surrender to police commander SS-Brigadefuhrer Jurgen Stroop. Stoop then ordered the burning of the ghetto block-by-block, killing 13,000 Jews, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II. It was doomed from the start.
The program will begin and end with “The Partisan Song,” an anti-fascist anthem written in 1943 by Russian-born Anna Marly, with lyrics by French Resistance leader Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie.
Bruce Ratner, Chairman of the Board at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, believes this song “speaks to the fight for social justice and fundamental human rights.”
Those fundamental human rights are universal and immutable, as Sing for Hope Co-Founder Camille Zamora points out: “Both the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the centuries-old pandemics of racism and antisemitism highlight the need for resistance and resilience.”