TERRE HAUTE —
The little museum along South Third Street is getting help from some big names as it continues to spread its global message of forgiveness.
Hollywood celebrities Elliott Gould and Ed Asner put their names down as charter members of the fledgling “Friends of CANDLES,” a support organization for the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center founded by Terre Haute’s Eva Kor.
Gould, famous for his roles in movies such as “Ocean’s 11” and the television series “Friends,” said over the telephone Thursday he’s happy to continue supporting Kor’s mission, as he did earlier in the fall while speaking at the museum’s annual dinner.
“I had the privilege of visiting the CANDLES Museum, meeting Eva Kor, and spending time with her. For me, it’s also a privilege to be able to reflect on where I am, and what I do, the significance of the museum, the significance of Eva. She’s an amazing survivor of Auschwitz and their twin experiments,” he said.
Kor and her twin sister, Miriam, were being raised on their family’s farm in Romania in the 1940s amid World War II and the expanding ethnic violence of Nazi Germany. The girls and the rest of their Jewish family were ultimately taken to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, and subjected to the Third Reich’s infamous twin studies projects.
Gould pointed out that the Holocaust represents an extremely dark period in human history.
“There are no words for it,” he said, emphasizing his admiration for Kor’s story, and more importantly her dedication to teaching forgiveness of one’s enemies. “Forgive your worst enemy. That’s a really tough one.”
Kor’s story has been documented in books, television and film, as she points to forgiveness as a tool in ending genocide.
Kiel Majewski, executive director of the museum, said the idea of allowing people to become members is new to the group, and at this point all who sign up would be termed “charter members.”
“It’s going to be an annual thing, a continual program,” he said of the membership drive. “We would love to have 500 members by the end of 2013.”
Majewski said the museum hopes to upgrade its visitors’ experience as it introduces interactive exhibits and more information about contemporary genocide. From the genocide in Rwanda to ongoing strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the roots of oppression and murder are often quite similar and in need of address.
Majewski noted Gould is an honorary lifetime member, as is fellow actor Ed Asner, star of television shows such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant.”
Asner said in a statement that Kor’s message of forgiveness is essential and one from which the museum’s visitors can learn.
“Eva and the staff at CANDLES have one of the most unique, pleasing and informative Holocaust museums you can find,” he stated.
The Friends of Candles offers memberships ranging from $9 for students up to $10,000 for its Founders’ Society. More information can be obtained online at www.candlesholocaustmuseum.org or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com.