Renewing the Ties That Bind
Many years ago, my mother, a survivor of Auschwitz who lost her parents and all but one of her eleven siblings in the camps, did a videotaped testimony for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. I recall her exclamations on the phone at the beginning of the process: “Larry, I got a letter from Steven Spielberg, I got a letter from Steven Spielberg!”
As the taping approached, my mother was almost trembling with anticipation but also understandably anxious. The process was handled with great sensitivity and it meant a great deal to our family that my mother’s story, indeed her legacy, was now captured not only for posterity, but also to witness and to teach.
My mother died in 2010, having lived well into her eighties. Her love of family and of life was deeper than I could explain. From time to time since losing her I’ve watched her visual history testimony – to hear her voice and to be ever inspired by her life.
A few months ago, I was invited to be a member of the External Advisory Committee of the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. The Visual History Archive is the institute’s digital collection of audiovisual interviews, with 53,000 testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, as well as other genocides. The External Advisory Committee is charged with guiding the institution toward entirely new and broader educational applications of the testimonies, ensuring that they will be a living and growing voice of conscience throughout the world.
Sometimes elements of our lives that are deeply personal find expression on larger canvasses. Somewhere in the 53,000 is my mother’s testimony, but I will treat each testimony as a precious legacy and an expression of both remembrance and resolve. As the son of a survivor, these are the ties that bind. What a privilege it will be to carry their lives and lessons forward. Some leadership roles we find, and others find us.
In his 29th year of service to The Wexner Foundation, and after thirteen years as its President, Larry Moses serves as the Foundation’s Senior Philanthropic Advisor. He was the Founding Director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program in 1987, and later Foundation Vice President. As Leslie and Abigail Wexner’s senior advisor, Larry plays a key role in organizing the family’s philanthropic activities, and works closely with Jewish philanthropists and public leaders in Central Ohio, throughout North America and across the globe. Larry’s scholarly interests rest largely in the arena of Holocaust studies. His mother was a survivor of Auschwitz, and Larry has taught extensively on various historical, theological and human dimensions of the Holocaust. Larry has received a variety of community and organizational awards and serves on a number of boards and advisory committees, including as an officer of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Funders Network, as a Board and Executive Committee member of Hillel International and as a member of the External Advisory Committee for the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive Program. Larry can be reached at email@example.com.