Archive for the ‘Brundibár: Beyond Imagination’ Category

“The Show Will Go On” Starring Ela Weissberger

Liron and Ela Weissberger at a Brundibar performance

Ela Weissberger June 30, 1930 – March 30, 2018

It’s hard to describe what it felt like walking into Ela’s house that sweltering summer of 2010. Accompanied by a motley documentary film crew, we were still in the early stages of researching the Terezín concentration camp and had little knowledge of the children’s opera Brundibar. My intern found Ela on a google search and was ecstatic when he realized she was in the tri-state area. I made a couple of phone calls, and that same day(!) we packed the car with equipment and crew we were on our way to interview Ela in Tapan, New York…

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Brundibár – History and Premise

Forgetting is the final instrument of genocide — Simon Norfolk

From October 1941 to May 1945, Nazi Germany turned the Czechoslovakian garrison town of Terezín into the Jewish ghetto they called Theresienstadt. Little known, even today, was that within its walls of brutality and injustice endured a culture of creativity, ingenuity and irrepressible human spirit that is profoundly expressed through the children’s opera Brundibár, the brainchild of Jewish prisoner, Hans Krasa, and performed by Jewish children suffering under the yolk of Nazi occupation. An allegory which mocks Hitler’s tyranny and boldly predicts his resounding defeat, the opera was performed 55 times under the unwitting eye of Nazi oppressors who did not understand the Czech language. Armed with hopeful lyrics and performed without yellow stars, Brundibár empowered its child players and allowed them to experience a brief moment of freedom as they discovered the weight of their collective voice.

“Beyond imagination” is a term Holocaust survivors often use to qualify their experience, as words and images cannot fully express what they have witnessed and endured. The same holds true for those individuals throughout the world who have weathered and survived genocide since the end of World War II. Exposure to these events is especially poignant when considering the innocent child survivors whose strength of character within the talons of inhumanity leads us to a place beyond our own imagination.Today we find ourselves at pivotal crossroads of Jewish, and world history. A juncture where the few remaining witnesses and survivors of the Shoah leave us every day. A time when the profound tragedy and dignity of their very existence is in jeopardy of being relegated to archival documents of faded portraits and static history.

As with any crossroads, we are now tasked with the responsibility of choosing a pathway of remembrance and awareness which acknowledges the specter of genocide that still walks among us — not only for ourselves but for those who will follow our lead and example. In doing so we must honor a rich Jewish history and culture while acknowledging those who have experienced the multigenerational effects of genocide by connecting the voices of the past to the hearts and minds of future generations within an engaging, meaningful and relevant forum of discovery and creativity which fosters unique interpersonal relationships. What’s more, we must share this salient story and experience with an ever-growing number of people throughout the world who find themselves distant from the cataclysm of the Holocaust, and closer to the fuel of ignorance, tinder of ambivalence and match of intolerance.

Brundibár – Funding and Status

To date, the Brundibár: Beyond Imagination project has been supported by its creators, small donations and the valuable time of our volunteers and dedicated staff who have all made efforts well beyond their modest salaries and stipends. However, with widespread support for the project concept and commitment from potential mentors, directors, NGO and other institutions, we have yet to realized the financial support that will make this important project a reality.

Brundibár: Beyond Imagination, LLC, in partnership with our 501(C)(3) fiscal sponsors, has been seeking financial support from from government programs, private institutions, NGOs, broadcasting networks, developmental grants, self-initiated fundraising and foundations. To date we have made proposals to, received commitments or funding from the following:

  • Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc, Miriam Weiner, Director of Allocations:pending financial support from the Rabbi Israel Miller Fund for Shoah Education, Research and Documentation
  • World Holocaust Forum founded by Dr. Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor: confirmed financial support and program affiliation
  • Yad Vashem: pending educational support
  • Wilf Family Foundation: pending financial support
  • UJA-Federation of New York
  • Nadace Leo Baeck, Director Karel Tolde: pending financial support and program affiliation
  • NYU Prague, Director Jiri Pehe: program and educational support
  • Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), Channel 1: co-production commitment in the amount of $60,000.00 USD


For close to two years Brundibár: Beyond Imagination has been actively laying the groundwork for the project. During this time we have made great strides in the areas of research, documentation and the creation of a unique structure for the implantation of this ambitious project. To date we have have had the honor to befriend, interview and filmed close to 12 survivors of Theresienstadt, as well as many of their children and grandchildren. Throughout our travels within the United States, Israel and the Czech Republic we have garnered the support of many prominent cultural, institutional and government figures who, without their approval and backing, this project would not be possible. Along the way, we have also brought on a number of helpful volunteers and dedicated and talented staff of five ambitious researchers, historians and filmmakers and writers based in New York, Tel Aviv and Prague.

Brundibár – The Organization Serves

Educational Summer Theatre Arts Program serves:

  • Individual participants — as a forum of experiential education, creativity and personal identity
  • Participating “mentors” — as an opportunity to influence and educate the participants
  • The Municipality of Terezín — as a transformational cultural and community revitalization opportunity
  • Yad Vasheem — as multicultural outreach of the Jewish experience, culture and Holocaust education that safeguards of the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations
  • New York University in Prague — as an internship program for international study abroad students

The Documentary Feature Film serves:

  • General public — as an inspirational and educational story
  • As a source of pride in heritage and culture
  • As in introduction to a broader understanding of the Shoah and genocide beyond fact and figures
  • As a gateway to further Shoah, cultural heritage and creative studies
  • As a means to becoming active in the fight against ignorance, intolerance and Holocaust denial
  • As a means to connect with educational institutions, communities, museums and survivors
  • Educational institutions — as an entertaining and engaging gateway to teaching the Shoah as a living and evolving story and as a relevant and powerful tool for fighting intolerance, hate and Holocaust denial
  • Program mentors — as a platform form which to illustrate their commitment to sharing their professional and personal experience whilst helping the world fight intolerance, hate and Holocaust denial

The Interactive Educational Website serves:

  • Individuals — as a gateway to, and interactive forum for, Shoah studies including:
    • Films, photos, stories and other educational materials
    • A conduit to educational institutions, non government organizations and museums
    • A connecting point to other individuals interested in, or having experienced the generational effects of genocide and the fight to prevent genocide
  • Families of Shoah survivors and victims of genocide — as an open forum of cultural heritage, creativity and personal responsibility
  • Community Programs — as an educational tool for presenting the story and lessons of the Shoah within an accessible, relevant and meaningful forum of interactivity, connection and action
  • Non Government Organizations — as a means to create awareness and build a broader audience to present their offering and/or services
  • Educational Institutions —
    • General: Student and faculty exposure to Brundibár: Beyond Imagination educational programs, archival materials and community
    • Partner Institutions: as a means to create awareness and present their offerings
  • Museums — as a means to create awareness and present their offering including: archives, collections, exhibitions and programs

-Documentary Film Distribution

The Brundibár: Beyond Imagination documentary film is intended to be shown within key festivals to secure a general theatrical release. After a domestic and international theatre run, the film will be ready for broadcast within domestic and international markets as exampled by Channel 1 (IBA) Israel – a broadcaster that has already been secured. Beyond broadcast, the film will be set up for DVD and Video on Demand (VOD) sales through the supporting Brundibár: Beyond Imagination website and outlets like iTunes and Netflix. Beyond the film’s theatrical run it will be made available to educational institutions, government agencies and NGO’s for exhibition rental and/or broadcast on DVD or VOD.

Festival Examples: Politics on Film, Savannah, Strasbourg International, Jewish Film Festival of New York, and World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival etc.

Secured Broadcast Partners

  • Channel 1 (IBA), Israel
  • Ceska Televize, Czech Republic

Brundibár – Key Players

-Key Players

  • David Peimer, Opera Director
  • Dorit Novak, Director of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies
  • Sasha Nanus, Program Director
  • David Eaton, Musical Director
  • Susan Nanus, Opera and Documentary film Writer
  • Jean-Paul Samputu, Artistic and Cultural Mentopr
  • Neil Redding, Creative Technology Director

-Board Members and Professionals

Project Advisory Board

  • Michael Berenbaum, The Berenbaum Group (pending educational consultant)
  • David Peimer, Theatre Professor and Director, NYU Prague (confirmed opera director)
  • David Eaton, Director New York Symphony (pending music director)
  • Markéta Cherny, Czech Theatre Producer (confirmed theatre producer)
  • Tobi Kahn, professor and renowned artist (confirmed mentor)
  • Marc Dennis, Holocaust art scholar, professor and renowned painter (confirmed mentor)
  • Jiri Pehe, Director of New York University in Prague (active educational consultant)
  • Tomas Hanus, Conductor Brno Orchestra (confirmed conductor and son of Terezín survivor)
  • Sasha and Susan Nanus, Founders of the Manhattan Performing Arts Co (pending summer theatre arts director)
  • Jean Paul Samputu, World Musician/Cultural Ambassador/Rwanda Genocide Survivor (confirmed mentor)
  • Eugenie Mukeshimana, Director, Rwandan Consulting (active Rwandan/African consultant)
  • Ludmila Claussova, Director, Czech Film Commission (active consultant)
  • Rabbi Leor Sinai, Executive Director, Jewish Lens (active consultant)
  • Tomas Pojar: Czech Republic Ambassador to Israel (active consultant)
  • Milos Pojar, Former Czech Republic Ambassador to Israel (active consultant)
  • Dr. Jan Munk, Director of the Terezín Memorial, Terezín (active consultant)
  • Bret Werb, Musicologist at the USHMM in Washington, DC
  • Leo Pavlat, Director of the Jewish Museum in Prague
  • Ruzena Cechova, Mayor of the Municipality of Terezín
  • Lukas Pribyl , Director of the European Shoah Legacy Institute Terezín
  • Tomas Kraus, Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Czech Republic
  • Dr. Dagmar Lieblova, Chair, Terezín Initiative (official Terezín survivors network and historical organization)
  • Oded Breda, Director of the Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association, Beit Terezín, Israel
  • Ital Nevo-Landsberg, Director of Documentary Programming, Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), Channel 1
  • Dr. Frank Mecklenburg, Chief Archivist and Director of Research Leo Baeck Institute in New York

Survivor Consultants

  • Fred Terna, artist and Holocaust survivor, USA
  • Helga Hoskova, artist and Holocaust survivor Czech Republic
  • Morris Wyszogrod, artist and Holocaust survivor Israel
  • Ela Weissberger, Terezín Survivor, USA

Brundibár – About the Organization

-Activities and Purpose

Project activities will include the following interdependent components:

  • Creation and implementation of an Educational Summer Theatre Arts Program featuring an interpretation of the children’s opera Brundibár
  • Production and distribution of a Documentary Feature Film based on the Summer Theatre Arts Program
  • Creation and maintenance of an Interactive Educational Website featuring the activities of the Educational Summer Theatre Arts Program and Documentary Feature Film

-Project Founders

  • Michael McDevitt
  • Liron Unreich
  • Zafrir Kochanovsky

Brundibár – Needs and Point of Difference

With all due respect to the efforts and accomplishments of previous and ongoing “stand alone” programs that address Shoah education and the Jewish experience — including Brundibár based theatre arts programs, community group stagings, cultural heritage travel programs and documentary films — Brundibár: Beyond Imagination will create a new paradigm and standard for teaching and sharing the story and lessons of the Shoah, as well as providing a broader understanding of the multigenerational effects of genocide throughout the world. The project’s point of difference can be summed up in the following ways:

  • The overall project will consist of three educational elements that support each other to create educational opportunities that reach beyond their traditional territories and confines to “cross pollinate” the story and message
  • The project will reach new generations where they live — within their communities and through the internet — with a common language they can relate to and share with others
  • The project will call upon, incorporate and promote other organizations efforts and works within an inclusive and cooperative “hub” for Shoah education and Brundibár focused programs
  • The project will move beyond a “preaching to the choir” approach to create an experience that shares the story and lesson of the Shoah and other genocide victims within an multigenerational, accessible and inclusive forum of education, culture and creativity and dialogue
  • The project will be given credibility by its established and growing affiliations and partnerships with established and respected individuals, organizations, institutions and museums
  • The project will feature accomplished personalities in the fields of film, theatre, art, music and education that will attract broad audiences by calling upon their cultural status and notoriety

Brundibár – Target Groups


  • Local schools and educational institutions
  • Philanthropists and government organizations
  • Genocide survivors and their families
  • Cultural leaders including historians, artists, musicians
  • International press


  • Students and educators ranging from middle school, high school to undergrad and graduate college programs who will be presented the material as an educational tool and resource
  • General audiences, film festival participants, shared interest groups, potential distributors
  • Philanthropists needing social media to bring attention the topics covered within the film


  • Philanthropists referencing the site as an index for other groups doing work with shared interest
  • Students and educators ranging from middle school, high school to undergrad and graduate college programs who will be presented the material as an educational tool and resource
  • Historians and individuals with shared interest who will use the website as an accessible tool and documentation of topics covered
  • An interactive tool for survivors and their families to share their stories
  • General public with shared topical interest
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Series One