Guest speakers, concert from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra also included in the church’s interfaith series
Wayzata Community Church is ready to host the inaugural year of its interfaith series, which aims to unite various religious communities through the exploration of subjects from moral, humanitarian, philosophical and religious perspectives.
“We’ve got to have open dialogue. We’ve got to have communication and we want to be a community that embarks on that courageous conversation with each other,” said Rustin Comer, the church’s minister of faith formation.
For the series’ first year, Comer has acted as host curator for a two-week long event centered around the “Transfer of Memory” exhibit, which features photos and stories of Holocaust survivors living in Minnesota. The exhibit, created by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, will be displayed May 5-19 at the church.
“Each year, we hope to have a different interfaith dialogue partner, so this year we picked Judaism and we’re already in conversations with some of our Islamic friends for next year,” Comer said.
“Transfer of Memory” features portraits by Iowa photographer David Sherman and words by Minneapolis writer Lili Chester, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors.
The exhibit’s opening night will also include a talk from Dr. Robert O. Fisch, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1958. Fisch will tell how he survived a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. After the war, Fisch attended medical school and participated in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
After moving to the U.S., Fisch became world-renowned for his work in pediatrics. He is also an artist and author of several books, including “Light from the Yellow Star,” “Metamorphosis To Freedom,” “Children’s Letters To A Holocaust Survivor” and “Fisch Stories,” and conceived the exhibit “The Value of One Life” at the Minnesota History Center.
Also presenting a lecture as part of the series is Rabbi Harold Kravitz from the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka. Kravitz, who was named one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis in 2013 by the Jewish Daily Forward, will lead a lecture titled “Hebrew Bible and the Holocaust.” Kravitz also serves as the board chairman for Mazon, a national Jewish advocacy group that aims to eradicate hunger.
Iris Tzafrir, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, will present “Finding Life in Lives Lost” as part of the lecture series. After World War II, Tzafrir’s parents migrated to Israel, determined to start a new life. It was in the Negev desert of Israel in the small agricultural community of Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev where Tzafrir was born and raised.
Closing out the series will be a program titled “In Times of War” from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The concert will explore pieces written by composers who lived through the Holocaust. Selections include music written by Gideon Klein, who was a promising young composer and pianist when the Nazi regime imprisoned him in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Klein’s “Partita for Strings,” was performed in the concentration camp and later arranged for string orchestra.
The concert will also include Béla Bartók’s “Divertimento for String Orchestra,” which was written in 1939 while the threat of World War II loomed over his native Hungary. Closing the concert will be is Dmitri Shostakovich’s statement on war, “Chamber Symphony,” which was written in 1960 under the intense scrutiny of Communist censorship.
The concert, and all the events included in the series, are free to attend.
Through the series, Comer said he hopes to draw in guests of all religious backgrounds to help create an open dialogue between members of the community.
“Whenever we can hear someone else’s story and understand their experience, it awakens us to how we can be better humans,” Comer said.
If you go:
“Transfer of Memory”
Where: Wayzata Community Church, 125 Wayzata Blvd. E.
When: May 5-19
7 p.m. Friday, May 5 – A lecture from Dr. Robert O. Fisch
7 p.m. Monday, May 8 – A lecture from Rabbi Harold Kravitz
8 p.m. Friday, May 19 – St. Paul Chamber Orchestra presents “In Times of War”
Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]