Silberstein Inspires at the 29th Annual Holocaust Remembrance

Michael Silberstein

Michael Silberstein

Moments of silence and disbelief were experienced in the Nelly Golletti Theater on April 19 as the Marist College community remembered those lost in the Holocaust during the 29th Annual Holocaust Remembrance.

The ceremony featured performances by the Marist College Chamber Singers, a welcome speech from President David Yellen, and a lighting of memorial candles. The event remembered those lost during the tragedy, as well as honored those still living. “People think of the Holocaust as this historical event and something that was so long ago and far away when realistically there are survivors,” says Justin Katz, President of Marist College Hillel.

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Marist College Chamber Choir

Among the survivors was Michael Silberstein, a Holocaust survivor and the featured speaker. Hundreds of students, faculty, and local residents gathered to listen to Silberstein’s inspiring story of agony and survival. During the sixty minute recount of his life, Silberstein described the horrors of enduring a Jewish ghetto and two concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Like so many others, his experience was excruciating, but his triumph is inspiring.

At eighty-nine years old, Silberstein is a true survivor. But the horror he faced during the years of 1939 to 1945 will be forever branded in his memory, just as the scars are on his skin. He recalls arriving at Auschwitz and being tattooed so the Nazi soldiers could identify the prisoners. “From then on I was just a number. But I was lucky because I was alive,” said Silberstein.

After three years in a concentration camp, World War II ended. When the Americans liberated Germany, he was fourteen years-old, completely alone, and two of his five siblings along with his mother had been killed by the Nazis. “I had nothing to lose anymore,” recalls Silberstein of his eventual move to the United States. Yet Silberstein still reiterates that he was one of the lucky ones to be able to escape.

Lucky is a relative term, but alive is exactly what Silberstein and hundreds of thousands of other survivors are. Yet the hundreds of thousands left are a minimal sample compared to the tens of millions lost in the most horrifying attack on human existence in modern history. Stories like these live on through survivors, but survivors are in their 80’s, 90’s and 100’s. Time with them is precious; to hear their stories, and make sure what happened to them never happens to humanity again. “It’s so incredible to hear the stories of survivors firsthand, because they won’t be around forever. In order to prevent tragedies we must remember and honor them,” said ceremony attendee and Marist College Junior Elizabeth Sullivan. On this particular night, the Holocaust Remembrance Committee felt the most chilling reminder was the most necessary: that the Holocaust was not that long ago. “The event was directed towards anti-semitism, but it encompassed a broader aspect of hate in general,” says Katz. 

The scars revealed by Michael Silberstein are a reminder to the Marist College community that the human race must collectively never let something like this happen again. And according to Katz that is what the committee was conveying to the community, “I think it’s really important to remind people that something on that scale happened only seventy years ago…And that’s what the committee was trying to portray with the event; to stop hate.”

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Fashion Department Forges New Path After Loss

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Everyone deals with the repercussions of death in different ways. Some grieve and mourn, while others try their best to maintain normalcy. The students of the Marist College Fashion Department are no different.

Marist was faced with the untimely death of long-time fashion professor, Richard Cramer. Kramer passed away in his sleep on the night of Feb. 27, 2019. He was found by a neighbor after he failed to show up for his 9:30 a.m. class. He was in his early 70’s, and was a Senior Professional Lecturer of Fashion. Kramer was a beloved friend and colleague of Radley Cramer, the director of the Fashion Department.

Over the past few weeks, Marist students have put together different memorials commemorating Kramer’s life. However, his loss will be felt profoundly over the rest of the semester, particularly for his students. Life surrounding the Marist Fashion department must go on, and Kramer’s students must finish their work without their beloved professor.

One of the hardest aspects of death is not just the finality, but the uncertainty. In Kramer’s absence, major questions were immediately looming over those who had to make the toughest decisions. Who would take over for Kramer? How would his students cope? Was it wrong to possess a “show must go on” mentality surrounding such a tragedy. Among those not only faced with loss, but tough decision making, is Dr. Carolyn Lepre, the Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Marist. “We could never replace Richard,” said Lepre. “We simply had to find someone to take his position, and that was a challenge.”

The person found to take over Kramer’s position, was ironically, someone who also knew him and worked with him years ago, former FIT professor, David Roberts. “We’re very hopeful, and I think the students will find it a very easy transition,” said Lepre.

While the transition may be easier than some given Roberts background, it’s still not the same for seniors who have to finish their capping projects without the professor who inspired them. “The whole process is going a lot differently now,” said Fashion Merchandising major, Margaret West. “For the fashion department, the springtime is very back-heavy, so a lot of major events are being affected while we all make adjustments. And on top of everything, you also need to take time to grieve.”

While the transition may inconvenient, it’s a “silver lining” among the tragedy, according to Lepre. With all the new additions coming to the fashion department, Roberts is certainly coming with his hands full. Despite any challenges, the new professor is emerging onto but also with an entirely blank canvas, with a reputation to back it up. Not to mention, Roberts’ time to shine will come soon enough; the 33rd Annual Silver Needle Fashion Show will take place on the first Sunday in May. The show was instituted in 1984, with major contributions from the late Kramer.

On top of the untimely loss of Kramer to the Marist College community, Roberts certainly has some major shoes to fill.

 

Frasca Saves Best for Last in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

Marist College’s spring musical is a show that comes from an age as golden as the girl who plays it’s lead. Hello, Dolly! will premiere in the Nelly Goletti theater on Feb. 27, and play through March 3. Liana Frasca, a senior journalism major, will bring the role of Dolly, a widowed match-maker, to life. This coming-of-age Broadway musical is fun, bright, and true to the time it was made. “On top of manipulating these relationships and looking out for herself, Dolly is such a huge personality and she is a strong woman,” said Brian Powers, a senior who is appearing in his eighth and final show with Marist College Club of Theater Arts. “Liana is going to do such an amazing job”, said Powers.

This will also be Frasca’s final performance with MCTAA, and according to her cast mates, she has saved the best for last. “We all knew Liana was talented, but I don’t think anyone knew she was this talented. She is so perfect for this role.” said senior cast mate Quincy Brown, who is playing Cornelius Hackl.

For Frasca, this part and the responsibility it carries has been a long time coming. “I started doing shows in ninth grade and haven’t stopped since,” said Frasca. “Landing this role has caused a major shift in my perception about acting. I’m learning to take emotional risks.” Compared to some, she is still rather new to the game of acting, despite this being her sixth main stage performance at Marist.

In her final performance, it’s only the experience she has gained as an actor over the past eight years that shows. “You cannot believe how perfect she is for the role,” said Powers. “The past four years our grade has been incredibly strong. Liana has been type-casted as very small, principle roles. But this show, she is really able to show her strengths and how far she has come. She is really able to show how amazingly talented she is. No one could have been cast better.” With blonde hair, a bright, unmistakable smile, and a personality that outshines any physical attributes, Liana is taking on this 1964 musical with confidence. Dolly Levi is one of the most iconic roles in Broadway history, previously portrayed by Hollywood veterans such as Bette Midler, Barbara Streisand, Shirley Booth and Carol Channing. “[Dolly] is a self-made woman whose career is built around her intelligence, wit, and charisma…she’s really one of the most complex characters I’ve been lucky enough to play,” said Frasca.

Tara Kinsella, a senior playing Irene Malloy, is excited to see all of the elements come together in the show, but makes it clear that the main element is Frasca. “Liana is truly one of the most effortless performers I have ever seen,” said Kinsella. “She captures Dolly’s essence through her humor, tenderness and confidence throughout the show. She understands what it means to be honest on stage and how to communicate with an audience.” In a show that is so heavy on costumes, music, and dancing, Liana has learned what it means to be honest in a character. Kinsella credits Frasca’s performance in her ability to bring the audience through the story with her, despite external, theatrical distractions. “She’s very expressive,” said Frasca, referring to Dolly. “Whatever she’s feeling, she shows it in her whole body. It’s been an awesome learning experience getting out of my head and into my body for the sake of the character. She’s very different from me in that way, and I have a lot to learn from her.”

In just a few weeks, what Frasca has learned will come to life on stage in what will be her final show at Marist College.  What she’s most excited for? Sharing the spotlight with her cast mates for a final time. “It’s especially cathartic, because I’m sharing the stage with some of my absolute best friends.” Reserve your tickets now at http://www.marist.edu/box-office, and see Frasca take her final bow in Hello, Dolly!