By Jenna Soroka
(AJNews) – It is month three of Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s (JFE) Shine A Light on Antisemitism mosaic tour. The tour kicked off in November of last year at the Alberta Legislature and then spent some time at Edmonton Beth Israel Family Shul in December. The artwork is now available for viewing at City Hall until February 6. This tour was made possible through one of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) grants and is continuing to help grow public awareness of antisemitism.
When you go to City Hall to view the artwork this month, you will also get the opportunity to learn about the history and its relevance in the 21st century through one of Yad Vashem Canada’s ten panel exhibitions. Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible? is the one on display at City Hall with the mosaic currently. Both are meaningful opportunities to explore leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, January 27. Jennifer Magalnick, Associate Director of Holocaust Education and Community Engagement at JFE, shared that they have also taken the Stars Without a Heaven: Children in the Holocaust exhibit to local high schools and They Say There is a Land: Longings for Eretz Yisrael during the Holocaust to Beth Israel during Yom Haatzmaut last year. Panel exhibits are available for display if people are interested in hosting them.
Prior to the mosaic’s current residency at City Hall, people attending Broadway Across Canada’s production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium were able to experience this thought-provoking mosaic. In a CTV Edmonton news report, Jonathan Hashmonay who plays ‘Tevye’ in this production, commented that it was “striking to see so much sadness and so much anger within such a beautiful art piece.” Cast member Elliot Lazar, who plays ‘Mendel,’ emphasized the importance of this type of cross-community project to help combat antisemitism.
The mosaic, created in 2021, brought together people of all ages to express their personal experiences with antisemitism through words and illustrations. Fast forward to 2023, and the collaborative art project continues to nurture this powerful awareness campaign. The impact is evident when reading through the guestbook (present at each site of the artwork) which captures people’s impressions of the art. “The mosaic is both beautiful and important. Antisemitism is a great evil that must be stamped out,” one individual wrote. “Beautiful tribute”, “stunning”, “speechless”, “inspiring” others jotted down.
Tammy Vineberg, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for JFE, commented that their organization initially thought the mosaic would just tour within the local Jewish community. However, after they displayed it this past summer at K-days, they were inspired to identify other locations within the city where it could have a positive impact.
On March 20, it will be displayed at Roger’s Place during the Oiler’s game for Jewish Heritage Night. Additionally, thanks to the city’s Community Safety and Well-being (CSWB) Grant, the Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic will visit junior and senior high schools in the upcoming school year to raise awareness and act as a launching point for discussions around antisemitism between educators and students. The grant will enable the mosaic to be featured in libraries across the city as well.
Tammy encourages people to go visit City Hall if they have yet to see the artwork. “Take a picture, tag @jewishedmonton on social media, and share it.” Shining a light on the current impact of antisemitism is an ongoing process which requires awareness, education, and community collaboration.
For an even richer experience of the artwork, be sure to watch the videos in the interactive virtual exhibit on Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s website jewishedmonton.org under Featured Events: Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic art project.
Additionally, as part of the JFNA grant, JFE has built a page on their website which houses a variety of informative and educational resources on how to combat antisemitism in today’s society.
Also in Edmonton, Jewish educator and author Ben M. Freeman will be in conversation – in-person – at the Creative Hive on February 9 at 5:30 pm. The topic for his presentation is ‘Reclaiming our Jewish Story.” A light dinner will be included. Register by February 7 at jewishedmonton.org.
Jenna Soroka is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.