Betsy, Kellan and I went downtown the other day for a rally in support of Jay Ipson, a driving force behind the Holocaust Museum of Virginia. Jay is a holocaust surviver who as a young boy spent a year living in a hole in the ground with his family to avoid death at the hands of the Nazis. Here is an article in the Richmond magazine, Style Weekly, about the situation involving Jay and a wealthy donor to the museum, Marcus Weinstein.
Ipson and Weinstein clashed over issues such as putting Mr. Weinstein’s beloved mother’s name over the door leading to the synagogue in the museum. Apparently they just didn’t get along in general and the holocaust survivor was forced out of his position in the museum. At a later date he was asked to clean out his desk as well. I’m pretty sure he can still go inside and look around but that’s about it.
It’s the power of the purse and behind the scenes machinations that led to this sad situation and brought us to the museum with a large group of supporters for Jay as the museum board held a meeting to talk about reinstating him. And guess what happened? Mr. Weinstein didn’t show up! He stood up the other board members and everybody else! So they couldn’t vote on Ipson’s fate. And maybe they never will.
How do you make a rich guy attend a meeting if he doesn’t want to?
The Weinsteins are also active at the University of Richmond and I wrote awhile ago about the Carole Weinstein International Center which opened in the fall of 2010. The thing that strikes me about all of this is the fear many folks feel about the Weinsteins. I have heard more than once that so-and-so didn’t want to say anything about this issue because it might cause repercussions. Who wants to lose their job in this economic climate? Who wants to ruffle the feathers of someone who does this sort of thing and end up in a desperate situation?
Turning a holocaust survivor who lived in a potato hole as a child and built a museum to honor victims and survivors of so much horror out on the street is harsh! What else would they do? You can be big (powerful) and small (petty) at the same time (in case some of you rich folks hadn’t noticed). You can be a generous giver and a vain individual as well. But people will notice. And the name on the wall is nothing without the associations people have with it. It’s like the title of a book. It’s nothing without the story. And the story here appears to be that the holocaust and the museum have not taught some of us very much at all.
It’s often not easy to find a peaceful path where human beings and relationships are involved. Hopefully it will happen here at some point. We pray for peace and understanding. Anger can lead to some really bad things. Here are the photos from our meeting downtown.