Review of 2014

Part of: Review

For the third time Open Jewish Homes 2014 fulfilled an enormous need for this form of commemoration with stories told from Jewish houses. A total of over 10,000 visitors attended the sessions in eight cities. Positive reports came from all sides about moving tales and inspired storytellers, beautiful music and well-attended gatherings. During the commemorations, people came forward with new stories of their own and supplemented the tales that were told. Lively discussions took place.
This is what the programme Open Jewish Homes represents: young and old sharing memories and asking each other questions on places where Jews lived, worked and celebrated life.

Impressions from eight cities

The eight participating cities are Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Haarlem, Groningen, Tilburg, Leeuwarden and Elburg. Around 275 meetings were held at over 90 locations.
As we receive more responses, this page will be supplemented by photos, films and links. In the meantime, suggestions are flooding in via email on stories that might be told next year and from people who would like to join the programme with their place of residence.

A selection from the programme

In Rotterdam there was a beautiful encounter between the public and the daughter and the wife of Isaac Lipschits, the spiritual father of the Digital Monument that is an invaluable input to Open Jewish Homes.
Meetings took place in The Hague in the house of resistance heroine Ru Paré where one of the Jewish children saved by her told about the woman to whom he owes his life.
There was the gripping story about Alfons Katan in Leeuwarden, who told about his murdered father (see: http://www.omropfryslan.nl/nijs/betinking-yn-huzen-fan-joaden).
In Haarlem Jack Eljon told about his remarkable hiding period and rescue in Roerdompstraat.
In Tilburg an extensive programme was set up with personal stories, films and a photo exhibition specifically organised for this purpose of Jews from Tilburg from former times and their homes.
In Amsterdam at the former library in Betondorp, the village came to life every morning because of the exciting memories that former residents shared with each other and the public flocking in. In Danie Theronstraat in Transvaal district, as many as three houses participated in the extensive programme in which not only the memories of former residents were shared, but the history of the street was told as well. And at the former teacher training college in the Amsterdam Plantage neighbourhood, Sieny and Harry Cohen told of how she as a child caretaker at the day nursery and he as a courier for the Jewish Council, were able to rescue many children that attended the day care centre.

There was music everywhere

Songs from Dick Kattenburg in Elburg, moving music and poetry in the synagogue in Groningen at Folkingedwarsstraat… And at the former teacher training college in Amsterdam the afternoon was concluded with music performed by a string ensemble consisting of conservatoire students. They played works by Henriette Bosman, who was deported through the Hollandsche Schouwburg. She survived the war.

Some responses

“Everything was well organised, it went well, the atmosphere was excellent, but most of all: there was always an intense attention and transfer of knowledge and feelings.”

“It is fantastic that people open their homes to public, it makes the story intense because in reality not only individuals but also the locations were part of history.”

“I’ve heard two impressive stories today. The unbelievable suddenly comes close, around the corner.”

“I’ve had a really good day today. It was incredibly busy. We’ve not denied access to anyone…” (location holder in Haarlem)

The heartfelt cry of storyteller/visitor Max Arian was as follows:
"I have rarely witnessed that one sees something being invented (or may ‘discovered’ is the word) that feels so perfectly normal, that is developing at tremendous speed and that is not only successful but also a true and substantive supplement to the remembrance.”