High Priest of Holocaustolatry, Elie Wiesel will preside at the April 19th consecration of this new "Holocaust" Temple with Demolay Society Noahide Bill Clinton and Prince Hall Noahide Colin Powell as acolytes.
Gravity of Holocaust museum not lost on gala event attendees
April 3, 2009
MIKE ISAACS - Sun-Times News
In the end, Thursday night's Inaugural Gala that started the official countdown to the April 19 opening of the Holocaust Museum and Education Center was about people ...about people who lived through and died in the Holocaust, about survivors and their supports who banded together and committed themselves to making the museum happen.
Powell, the keynote speaker at Thursday's countdown event, recognized the gravity.
The facility, he said, is "a tribute to the millions of tragically lost souls that the building represents, for whom the building now bears witness to their loss and their sacrifice."
Powell called the Holocaust "a colossal act of arson unprecedented in its scale with genocide its sole and evil purpose."
His eloquent and moving speech touched on larger issues of discrimination and the need for education. "We must take the memory of the Holocaust today and pass this on to our children and our children's children," he said.
J.B. Pritzker, the project capital campaign chairman, said nearly $40 million has been raised.
"How far we've come," he said. "Over 10 years, we've seen this museum sprout from an unlikely idea to an international institution. Survivors and their families, people of all faiths and ages, corporate leaders and community activists are all committed to the same goal."
Holocaust Memorial Foundation President Sam Harris said he is one of many survivors who shared the same outlook in making the museum a reality.
"We believed there was a way to overcome the past rather than let it overcome us," he said. "Tonight, we stand within reach of what seemed an impossible dream -- the creation of a world-class Holocaust museum and education center. This marvelous facility holds our history, the fate of our families, our communities, and the world as we knew it. It shares history so completely and so compellingly that its relevance to the current day is unmistakable."
Harry Jelen, a member of the Foundation Board and former president of the Second Generation group, remembered having to operate the Main Street museum on a shoestring.
"Here we are hopefully disseminating information to the world that the Holocaust did happen, unfortunately," he said. "It's wonderful to have a museum in Washington. It's wonderful to have a museum in Israel. But here for the Midwest, people will not go there but they will go here."
Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George said the facility will have value for Catholic schools and parishes. "It will promote a sense of justice and elimination of genocide in the world," he said. "Denial of the Shoah will open the human race to any sort of violence and hatred. And hatred crosses many lines. Therefore, this is a place for learning for us all."
Richard S. Hirschhaut, executive director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, has worked on the project for the last five years.
"We mark the many milestones leading to this long-awaited moment -- the opening our magnificent new museum," he said. "Never before have I been prouder or more humble. For as we gather this evening, we stand on the threshold of truly remarkable achievement."
David Layman of Glenview helped design the main exhibition in the museum.
"We're really excited about being able to see this whole thing come together," said Layman. "Everyone involved in this project have really been the salt of the earth. It's been for (survivors) that we've been pushing so hard to get this opened so quickly."
Gov. Pat Quinn called the museum and learning center "a hallowed place."
"It's very, very important that we understand that it's a museum where we remember and never forget," he said. "And it's also an education center where we bring young people and not so young people -- all of us coming together and learning the importance of tolerance, the importance of fortitude, the importance of standing up and making a stand to save human lives."