Thursday, December 23, 2010

January 8 Fundraiser for Holocaust & Tolerance Museum

As you may know, we have always stated that profits from our film, An Unbroken Chain will be going to create and support a Holocaust museum. We are thrilled to announce that The East Valley Jewish Community Center (JCC) is going to house a much-needed Holocaust & Tolerance museum on their property, which will be the first of it's kind in Arizona. The JCC has just announced RSP Architects as the designer for its Tolerance & Holocaust Museum, along with former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano as RSP’s strategic advisor assigned to the project.

In November 2009, the East Valley JCC announced plans to build a museum dedicated to educating the public about the Holocaust in order for them to take action on issues facing the world today. The museum will be part of its current campus next to the JCC’s existing building. As an integral part of the revitalization of the intersection of Alma School and Ray Roads in Chandler the museum is being built with support from the City of Chandler.

Exhibits will include Holocaust history and education, exhibits on other genocides, and rotating exhibits on current diversity and tolerance issues. A Museum Steering Committee has been working to establish a strong foundation for the museum, as they have chosen an architect, begun developing an education and outreach plan and generating community support for the project. While it has been referred to as a Holocaust/Tolerance museum, the committee’s next steps include working with stakeholders to develop a name that accurately reflects the vision and mission of the project.

City of Chandler support includes a development agreement of up to $2 million for infrastructure improvements, widening the roadways and improving the entry corridor. The project is anticipated to be a catalyst for future development in the area with an annual economic impact of about $16.4 million.

RSP Architects is an internationally acclaimed firm most recently noted with completing the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix. After several months of review, a volunteer selection committee chose RSP for its long history of working on cultural projects that bring great pride to their communities. “RSP brings many of the elements that we were looking for in this project, and we’re fortunate to find a firm that has such an excellent fit with our vision,” said Michael Waxman, Architect Committee Chair.

Neil Giuliano’s extensive experience as a fundraiser, leader and community advocate will bolster the museum’s mission to use the Holocaust as a tool to educate society about the importance of diversity and combat prejudice at a community and global level. The Holocaust & Tolerance museum will be one of only five such museums in the country, and the only one of its kind in the state.

Giuliano was recently named CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, but will keep a base in Arizona and work on this project. Giuliano served as Tempe Mayor for 10 years, and was president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) until June 2009. At GLAAD, Giuliano expanded the organization's media advocacy and anti-defamation work to include religious and faith-based communities, sports and advertising media.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better fit for this project than a fundraiser and strategic advisor of Neil Giuliano’s caliber,” said Ben Benedict, Museum Steering Committee Chair. “The depth of experience he has working to combat hate and his broad community ties make this an excellent partnership.”

As its initial fundraiser, the JCC will premiere the award-winning documentary Rene & I, at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. Rene and I tells the story of twins, Rene and Irene who survived experiments by Josef Mengele after being sent to Auschwitz at age six. The documentary will be immediately followed with comments from a Holocaust survivor, and will include opportunities to learn more about how to volunteer and support the building of the museum.

Tickets for Rene and I cost $25 and will go to support the Center’s efforts. Tickets are available to be purchased and held at will-call by calling the JCC at 480-897-0588 or online at

Donations to support the museum can also be made online at

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