The Mitzvah Project
is a three-part, Holocaust-themed, theatrical program co-created and presented by Roger Grunwald. The March 22nd event is the unofficial kick-off of The Mitzvah Project
tour of Bay Area high schools and colleges. Comprised of a short play, lecture and conversation, The Mitzvah Project
poses several critical socio-historical questions: “Who decides the meaning of culture, race and ethnicity?” “How is one’s identity determined?” “Why do we demonize ‘the other?’”
The child of two German Jews — an Auschwitz survivor and a refugee — Grunwald’s artistic and personal mission is to use the power of the theater to keep in focus the critical lessons of the Holocaust at a time of growing intolerance as well as growing ignorance. The Mitzvah Project
presentation at the Goethe-Institut commemorates a tragic anniversary in world history, i.e. the March 24, 1933 passage of the Ermächtigungsgesetz, the "Enabling Act,” an amendment to the Weimar Constitution that gave Hitler dictatorial powers and set in motion his 12-year reign of terror and destruction.
, the one-act play and the first part of The Mitzvah Project
, dramatically explores the nature of prejudice through the interconnected lives of a Polish-Jewish Auschwitz survivor and a half-Jewish Wehrmacht officer who cross paths during the darkest days of the Holocaust. In his lecture, Grunwald examines the unique history that produced tens of thousands of half and quarter Jewish Wehrmacht soldiers. He segues to American history and sheds light on the role that America’s Jim Crow Laws played in providing a model for the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws. He probes the recent upsurge of white supremacism and intolerance and discusses how prejudice has been manifesting itself around the country including, and most alarmingly, in our schools. The last section of his talk examines how advances in human biology and genetics debunk racialist mythology.
The event is presented together with the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest San Francisco and the German Consulate General San Francisco.