Episode Six: Generations Apart

“Generations Apart” is the 6th episode of The Ripple Project: ONE series.

A grandmother’s story inspires countless strangers, but she struggles to share it with her own family.

Ela Stein Weissberger was 11-years-old when she landed the key role as “the cat” in the children’s opera, Brundibar, performed by and for Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Ela is the only performer alive today who acted in all 55 performances, and she continues to devote her life to telling the story of Theresienstadt throughout the United States and Europe. Generations Apart juxtaposes the lives of Ela’s granddaughters in Florida who are unaware of their grandmother’s role in the opera and the lengths to which she has gone to preserve the stories of those who did not survive.

Here is an early interview we conducted with Ela in her house

As Ela prepares for a lecture at a Brundibar performance in Kansas, she wrestles with inviting her granddaughters to attend. Highlighting the natural human desire to share our pain and triumph with loved ones, Generations Apart is a glimpse into the simple complications which entangle a woman’s public life and family legacy.

Project Status: In early stages of pre-production

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Shared Memory

Part of the film: The Ripple Project: ONE

Painting helps a man express horrors beyond words.

“This was. This is.” Brooklyn-based artist and Shoah survivor, Fred Terna, declares gesturing towards two paintings—one ominous and dark, the other lighter, with hues of hope. “This is how the memory changed.” Shared Memory is part oral history, part private gallery tour where Terna invites the viewer into his home and discusses pieces from his carefully catalogued collection spanning the history of his artwork. Together, the paintings and Terna’s stories describe his path from the Czech Republic to Brooklyn, from surviving Theresienstadt to his taxing marriage with a fellow survivor. In Shared Memory, Terna reveals how painting is both a way of coping with the horrors he has experienced and a means to preserve his memories.

WATCH: A conversation between Fred Terna and Rwandan genocide survivor and educator Eugenie Mukeshimana, which took place after a private screening of Shared Memory.

The following letter was written to Shared Memory Director and The Ripple Project Cofounder, Liron Unreich, by Fred Terna.

Dear Liron, I’m awed and delighted with the film. You and your team have done a superb job, telling the story of my paintings. Other film-makers have tried to make films about art and artists during the Shoah. When they focused on me they somehow stayed on the surface, there was a distance, a gap, between my feelings and ideas and what I saw on the screen. You are telling the story with great skill and insight, and I thank you.

During the Shoah we promised each other that the one who survives will tell about it. The burden is getting heavier as our numbers decrease, and you and your group are carrying this obligation with us, and for us.

Please give my thanks to all who are working with you on The Ripple Project. Looking forward to hearing from you before long,


Next: Daniela & Zigmund or Return to film

Sixteenth Anniversary of The Rwandan Genocide

Eugenie Mukeshimana

On April 7th, 2010 an international community of genocide survivors,political activists, and socially-conscious individuals joined their prayers and thoughts to commemorate the 16th Anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi’s in Rwanda.  Services were held around the world to remember the nearly one million lives that were lost in 100 days in 1994, and to celebrate the lives of survivors who continue to inspire people with their stories of triumph, faith, hope, and forgiveness.  Members of The Ripple Project were fortunate to attend an intimate ceremony at the UN Church Center, the commemoration featured musical performances, interpretative song and dance, and personal testimonies from survivors,all coordinated by Eugenie Mukeshimana, founder of Rwanda Consulting, whom is also a survivor herself.

Mr. Jean Baptist Rudatsikira, Masters of Ceremony, helped guide a diverse audience through the harsh realities of the genocide.  Keynote speaker Mr. Edouard Kayihura, whom survived the genocide at the well-known Hotel des Mille Collines (featured in *Hotel Rwanda*) recounted the terrifying obstacles he traveled through to survive.  While survivor Yvette Rugasaguhunga depicted her personal struggles through a moving poetic performance infused with Rwandan song, dance, and her individual reenactment of events and conversations leading up to the genocide.

Mr. Jean Baptist Rudatsikira

Even in the wake of devastating news that a boat of genocide survivors in Rwanda traveling to a commemoration event had capsized with over sixty trapped inside, Eugenie and her friends were able to stay strong, displaying a strong devotion to their past, and an effortless ambition for a better future.

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