Starting on October 25 and through November 6 this year, a special installation from the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will be available for the public to view at Barrington’s White House. There will be additional special programs which are detailed on pages 74 and 75 of this Quintessential Barrington issue, as well as online at barringtonswhitehouse.com and in the Barrington’s White House Fall Brochure recently mailed to residents.
A Barrington-based partnership between Northern Trust, Kim Duchossois, Barrington’s White House, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is making this possible. Leading the charge is Anne Gulotta, a resident and Northern Trust Securities, Inc. senior vice president.
This is a first community partnership for the Illinois Holocaust Museum. President Kelley Szany appreciates our community’s investment in having a dialogue and conversations about the Holocaust. “We hope this helps us build stronger, more inclusive communities which starts with conversations,” Szany said. She points out that global human atrocities are ongoing—Syria, Uyghurs in China, Myanmar, and now Ukraine—and that we need to understand the conditions before violence begins. “The early warning signs such as discontent, media propaganda, and limiting of civil rights can inform us,” she said. Szany believes people can make a difference through raised awareness and working with policymakers in government.
Communication Coordinator Sierra Wolff hosted a tour for us and shared the fundamental insight and words of Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, which is at the heart of the Illinois Holocaust Museum: “Whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness.”
This fall, you are invited to join this courageous journey with the community leaders who brought it together. Here are their thoughts about this upcoming cultural event in Barrington and why it is important to them, and they hope, all of us.
In the early winter of 2019, I had two occasions to learn about the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie. What connected these two events was not only their timing, but a serendipitous opportunity to discover new ways to connect the Museum to our community.
Northern Trust is a lead sponsor of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Educational Center located in Skokie and has an office in Barrington. I’m a longtime resident of Barrington where I have a vested interest in the growth and well-being of our community. A friend and community partner, Kim Duchossois, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum, and she is very involved in the development and well-being of the Barrington community.
On December 3, 2019, I attended the Barrington Area Community Foundation Appreciation Dinner, and the keynote speaker that evening was the (past) CEO of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Susan Abrams. One part of the presentation that was of interest to me was a video she shared from Streamwood High School. Eight sophomore students were invited to attend a leadership forum at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in the Fall of 2017.
The students talked about social justice and human rights issues in their communities and around the world. That day changed the lives of those eight students who returned to Streamwood High School with the ambition and inspiration to create their own temporary genocide museum. Inspired by a quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” the kids listened closely to Holocaust survivor Aaron Elster who challenged the students to come up with a project that demonstrated their interests and beliefs.
The students formed the “Be the Change Club” at their high school. The exhibit, which was in the library of the school, quickly became more than just a student project, but important lessons for the students, staff, and parents. I was so excited by the end of the night and told our Northern Trust Managing Director at the time, Tom Wischhusen, that I thought we could do this in Barrington. I reached out to Kim Duchossois. I knew Kim was very interested in the future education of the children in Barrington, and I thought this could be a unique opportunity not only for the students, but for the community at large. A few weeks later, Northern Trust Barrington along with other Chicagoland Northern branches invited colleagues and guests for a tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Although I was unable to attend the special event, my colleagues overwhelmingly were impressed and humbled by the experience. I began exploring the Museum through its extensive online education center, and I knew I wanted to learn more when I read the mission statement.
“The mission of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is expressed in our founding principle: “Remember the Past, Transform the Future.” The Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost, and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference.” Then in the spring of 2020 Covid 19 hit, and brought a whole new meaning to human justice, education, health, and more. Somehow during the chaos, the timing felt right to engage and connect with our community. The planets were aligning, and soon Kim and I met with Tom Wischhusen which led to subsequent calls and virtual meetings with Barrington’s White House, Northern Trust, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.
Our brainstorming sessions began, and we shared our visions of what could be. A partnership was formed, and the rest is history. Many emails, phone calls, and meetings later, our ideas became tangible. We became the Barrington ” Be the Change” club you could say. I seemed to be the common denominator among the group and felt that it was my duty to take the lead in organizing this collaboration. It’s not hard to do when working with the best leaders, and I felt passionate to take on the challenge.
Although I do not have direct ties to the Holocaust, I am the granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants. The atrocity of the Holodomor of 1932-1933 when thousands of Ukrainians perished under the Stalin regime is happening all over again. Hatred still exists in this world, and I think it’s up to every one of us to “Be the Change.” I grew up with the love only a grandmother can give, and she taught us all to be strong and courageous everyday of our lives.
This exhibit has not only become a learning experience for us all, but a lesson in humanity, social justice, kindness, and collaboration. I’ve enjoyed every step of the process and realize that we live in a special town. I will always be humbled by the generosity of Northern Trust, the Illinois Holocaust Museum, Kim Duchossois, and Barrington’s White House. I’ve visited the Museum a few times now and imagine that I will many more. There are only a small group of survivors still living, and if we don’t take the time to learn and teach our children about the past, a very important part of history will be forgotten. We cannot transform the future without it, nor can we do it on our own. Many lessons have been learned through this experience, and throughout the pandemic, but one common thread is Hope. We need to keep the faith that tomorrow will be better, love and lean into the people who care, and become the change you want to see in the world as an upstander in the face of adversity. I hope that the exhibit promotes curiosity among the community to visit the Museum in Skokie. Experiencing the Museum firsthand is transformative.
I currently have the privilege of serving as Chair of the Board of Trustees for Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, where I have been actively involved since 2015. It is one of my most important community engagements because of the criticality of the work and the deep friendships I have made with other trustees, staff members, and Museum supporters. When it comes to the importance of the work, it is undeniable: The Holocaust is one of civilization’s greatest examples of widespread evil, and yet if we have learned anything, we know that hatred unchecked can cause the unthinkable to happen again. That is why the tireless work of the Museum, to educate the public and students about what happened and why, must continue.
Throughout the years, I have had the pleasure and the privilege to count many people my friends, in particular survivors Sam Harris and Fritzie Fritzshall. Fritzie, who passed last year, continues to be an incredible source of inspiration for me, as she was someone who suffered so deeply and yet was so completely hopeful for the future. My work with all of the survivors motivates me to continue to push forward and realize their vision of a more tolerant, more peaceful world. Combating evil is about confronting it. It is about educating people on the details. How did it happen? Why? Germany was a “civilized society” and yet, it embraced institutionalized murder. This example reminds us that it can happen anywhere and so we want to be in Barrington—to bring the most memorable artifacts and educational materials to a wider audience, in particular to the school-age children. This traveling exhibit is part of our mission to work with the broader community in every way that we can, to expose as many people as possible about ways that society can be more tolerant and stamp down hate.
My father was a liberator in WWII. How do we continue to build on his legacy and that of so many from The Greatest Generation, and those who have fought for freedom the world over? We continue to share the stories of our past and understand our place in it so that we can learn, grow, and evolve for a better future for generations to come.
From Rollin Potter, Barrington’s White House Director
The fall season of Cultural Events at Barrington’s White House is the most diverse roster of exhibits, concerts, and conversations ever presented in our community and for Quintessential Barrington’s tens of thousands of readers. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you soon!
To learn more about the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, visit ilholocaustmuseum.org. Event details at Barrington’s White House can be viewed at: barringtonswhitehouse.com/storiesofsurvival