For Holocaust Remembrance Day, a music professor hopes to make the plight of some of the 6 million Jewish holocaust victims tangible for the Baraboo community through a program on music.
Teryl Dobbs, a University of Wisconsin-Madison music professor, will present the free community event “Music, Remembrance, and Repairing Our World: Lessons on Yom Ha’Shoah” on Thursday at First United Methodist Church. Through her work, she has interviewed Holocaust survivors and studied testimony and oral history, with a focus on how they made music while undergoing hardship and oppression.
During the hour-and-a-half program, Dobbs will share music including some composed by a 12-year-old girl while she was living in the Warsaw Ghetto. The girl didn’t survive World War II, Dobbs said.
“I think one of the things we learn from particular stories of particular people is that they become real to us. And these people have become real to me because I’ve also met their surviving family members, and I have seen what hearing this music does for the families,” Dobbs said. “It’s also a reminder of what is lost to our world when, because of hate, because of fear, people are … brutally murdered just because they were different.”
She also plans to connect these lessons with modern life.
Organized by Keri Olson, chair of the church’s administrative council, the program is part of the continued response to a photo of Baraboo students that went viral in November due to some of them making Nazi salutes.
“I believe that there is an opportunity after the photo had appeared last November for us to continue a conversation that allows for us to expand our understanding, to be able to be sensitive, to remember history” and apply lessons from the Holocaust to today, Olson said.
She came across Dobbs while looking for a program that would incorporate the arts, which she said would be more accessible for people than a straight lecture.
“When I learned that Dr. Dobbs used music as the thread to be able to tell that story, I felt that that would really resonate with audiences,” Olson said.
Dobbs, herself a Jewish woman, said she wants to help the community “heal and repair some of the wounds that this photo caused, and also the wounds that the photo revealed.”
While the multimedia presentation is designed for people 13 years and older, Olson said younger children will be entertained in the adjacent fellowship hall with various activities, such as painting “stones of kindness,” making friendship bracelets and listening to stories. At the end, they’ll join the adults and share what they did, Dobbs said, adding there will be a community discussion as well.
Donations during the program will benefit HIAS, a Jewish American nonprofit that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees, and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, according to Olson.