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Prospective Partnerships

In pursuing the informal partnerships described in our proposal to create a new Family Learning Center in Oradea to address the history of the Jews of Transylvania , we had meetings over the last several weeks in Washington DC, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Oradea with leaders and representatives of a wide range of insititutions and organizations. Our goal was to explain the two major new projects in Oradea the Lempert Family Foundation has undertaken and to solicit ideas, suggestions, questions and support.

After reviewing the work we've been doing since 2001 to help preserve the memory of the Jewish community of Oradea -- including the renovation and rededication of the Monument to Deportees erected in 1946; the Oradeajc.com Web site; and the planned feature documentary -- we discussed with our potential partners (1) the design and location of the proposed new memorial and (2) the initial planning for the creation of a family learning center and museum in the Teleki Street Synagogue (now being rented out for commercial puproses).

Below is a brief summary of the major considerations and suggestions coming out of these meetings.

Meetings with Cultural & Educational Institutions

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Two prominent leaders of the Department of Advanced Holocaust Studies stressed the need for and value of education at all levels. The creation of the Learning Center was seen as an especially positive step: it would create an environment where local educators could learn from specialists, including Fellows from the Department. There are more than 30 Fellows working in insitutions throughout Central Europe, and the Museum offered to help arrange for them to present lectures and seminars at the Learning Center. Other helpful suggestions included ideas for raising funds and studying the experience of groups engaged in similar efforts in Europe, to identify common opportunities and obstacles.

Yad Vashem: Following a guided tour of the new wing of the museum, including an opportunity to film relevant areas, we met with the Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Directorate and the Director of the International Relations Division. The Museum emphasized the need for education and graciously offered its support and expertise in helping guide the development of materials and exhibits for the Learning Center. We also had the opportunity to explain the role played by Sanyi Papp in saving the lives of Jews during the time of Oradea's ghetto; the Museum said it would bring this information to the committee responsible for evaluatuing candidates as "The Righteous Among Nations."

History Department, Tel Aviv University: We met with a leading historian who recently served on the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania and were encouraged by his offer to support our efforts in several important ways. He suggested the formation of an Academic Steering Committee (and graciously offered to chair it) to assure the accuracy of the information and materials in the Learning Center and on the Memorial plaques, and to guide the development and design of the presentations, curricula, etc.

Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv University: In a meeting with the Director of the Visual Documentation Center, we discussed the need to collect relevant information, images and footage, for use in the Learning Center. The Museum graciously offered to provide us access to materials in its possession.

Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: This institution works to document Jewish material culture past and present, with a focus on synagogues and cemeteries in Europe. Its activities include documentation, research, education and publishing; its work includes computer modeling and Web presentations. We discussed the need to document the Teleki St. Synagogue as the first step toward its renovation and agreed to construct a joint grant application to support the effort, with one of the Center's architects to take responsibility for the work.

New Foundation for Israeli Cinema and Television: Meeting with the Director of the Foundation and two prominent members of its board, we discussed the planned feature documentary telling the story of Oradea's Jewish community and were introduced to talented Israelis working in the medium for creative and technical support. Ideas to bring Israeli documentaries to the US were also discussed.

The Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History: This organization runs a program which brings 30 Israeli students majoring in architecture, history, Jewish studies, photography, etc. for 2-3 weeks to cities which once had significant Jewish communities. This August the students will be in Oradea, pursuing a number of projects, including ones linked to our efforts. We met with the leaders of the group as well as with the students themselves and had an opportunity to present and discuss our projects and to create an opening for future joint efforts.

The Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem University: In a meeting with the head of the Library's preservation department, we learned about the extensive collection of publications in Hungarian, Romanian, German and Yiddish, dating from 1890 - 1946 and originating in various parts of Europe including Transylvania. We discussed the possibility of gaining early access to relevant newspapers, photos, art and illustrated magazines for the Learning Center; and we agreed to write a join grant application to fund this aspect of the project.

Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People: The Director of the Archives graciously guided us through the institution, showing us relevant materials contained on site and making copies available to us.

Meetings in Oradea

The Jewish Community: In meetings with the President of the Jewish Community, we reviewed the design and location of the new memorial and our plans concerning the new Learning Center, in the context of the numerous priorities the community faces. We attended a prayer service, met with Jewish teenagers at the Community Club and others at the Canteen and inside the Community headquarters. The administrator of properties took us on a tour of the area that once made up the small ghetto.

Local Authorities: We were honored to participate in separate meetings with the President of the Bihor County Council and two Vice Presidents; one of Oradea's Vice Mayors; the Vice Prefect of Bihor County; Oradea's Chief Architect; and the President of the Cultural Commission. Both city and county officials expressed their support for our efforts and graciously offered to help in ways consistent with their respective positions.

Religious Leaders: In separate meetings with the Bishop of the Orthodox Church, the President of Emanuel University and the Interfaith and International Coordinator of the Reformed Church in Romania, we were gratified by the enthusiastic response to our projects. All agreed that there is an urgent need for the people of Oradea and environs to gain access to information about the lives and contributions of the Jews making up such an important part of the life of the city before the Holocaust.

University of Oradea: In a meeting with the head of the department of European Affairs and in a class of thirty 1st and 2nd year students, we presented our projects and led a discussion about ways in which young people in the city could get involved in them and benefit from them.

Chamber of Commerce: We met with the President and six members of the Chamber of Commerce of Bihor County and exchanged ideas about the potential commercial implications of our projects. It was agreed that our joint efforts will serve to enhance the image of the city and help boost tourism, and that businesses in Oradea will support the projects through modest monetary contributions and in-kind support.

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Posted: July 21, 2005

 


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