On February 9th, a group of campus ministers from VCU were privileged to participate in two tours at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond. We were hosted by the Hillel chapter at VCU. Our first tour – through the permanent exhibits – was guided by Jay M. Ipson. Mr. Ipson, a Lithuanian-born Jew, escaped the Nazi-administered Kovno ghetto as a child with his family in 1943. He and his family lived for six months in a potato hole on a Polish farmer’s field along the Lithuanian countryside. Eventually his family immigrated to the United States in 1947 when Mr. Ipson was 12. In 1997 he co-founded the museum; in 2003 the museum moved into its current location in an old tobacco warehouse in historic Shockoe Bottom.
Our second tour – through a special exhibit on Pope John Paul II – was guided by Simon P. Sibelman, the assistant executive director at the museum. Dr. Sibelman is also Professor of French and Holocaust Studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
What follows here is essentially a lingering reflection – where I process my first encounter with the Virginia Holocaust Museum. This reflection comes in the form of 10 would-be tweets.
140 x 10
1. The sound of trains rolling along is a wondrous noise of youth. Unless your parents can’t tell you, exactly, where you’ll be getting off.
2. From 1933-1939 the Nazi regime gave money increasingly, religiously, to the Church. New meaning: “For you have been bought with a price.”
3. Meat & potatoes! I suppose living in a potato hole is not so bad. If you’ve already been labeled the meat the Devil so desires. Hide & hope!
4. How little I know about why history matters is what matters. As for the matter of faith, if it doesn’t push me toward the world, I don’t...
5. When Ahmadinejad takes a shower, is it true that the water turns to gas as it moves down the drain? Evaporating. As if it never was.
7. When it comes to silence, it’s hard to distinguish the sound that is complicit from the person violently muted.
10. Tolerance through education is quite apt for the museum’s mission. But only self-giving love can take us where we most need to go.