European Tour delivers gift

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joseph Edelheit (left) and Bernard Reuter, two leaders who dreamed of sharing a Holocaust memorial oratorio.

Joseph Edelheit (left) and Bernard Reuter, two St. Cloud State leaders who dreamed of sharing a Holocaust memorial oratorio with European audiences.

A dream has come true.

A Holocaust memorial oratorio, a "musical gift of healing," has been performed before audiences in three European nations, including a concert on the site of a concentration camp where Jews and others were murdered.

View videos from the European Tour, which involves about 200 people from St. Cloud State University, the College of Saint Benedict, Saint John's University and the SCSU Cantabile Girls Choir.

Musicians visited France, Germany and Switzerland, performing "To Be Certain of the Dawn" and learning about Judaism in Europe. Their work delivers on a dream spun many months ago by a group of Minnesotans, including the composer, Stephen Paulus, librettist, Michael Dennis Browne, and St. Cloud State's Bernard Reuter and Joseph Edelheit. Reuter directs the university's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education. Edelheit, a rabbi and associate professor of philosophy, directs the Jewish and Religious Studies program.

Rooted in themes and subjects of mutual interest to the Jewish and Christian faith communities, the oratorio pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and honors survivors and their descendants. Paulus and Browne were at the concentration camp concert.

Sunday the study group visited a town in Germany where there have been no Jews since the 1930s. Edelheit prayed in the Christian church at Ihringen, Germany, then led tour members on a march to the nearby Jewish cemetery. Read the St. Cloud Times story about events in Ihringen, a town of nearly 6,000 across the Rhine River from France.

The final days of the European Tour have featured powerful educational opportunities, including a lecture on Zionism at Switzerland's Basel University. Saturday the group toured the Kaiserstuhl hills of the Upper Rhine Valley, Germany's most famous wine region. View the St. Cloud Times story and 14-photo slide show.

Tour musicians were in Freiburg, Germany, Friday for a Holocaust memorial concert in the campus church at the University of Freiburg. View the St. Cloud Times story and 14-photo slide show.

Thursday's concert at the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Natzweiler, France, drew an estimated 1,200 people, including former camp prisoners. View the St. Cloud Times coverage:

The study group toured the camp May 28. View the St. Cloud Times story, slide show and podcast. View a photo slide show underscored with Edelheit's words.

The May 24 concert in Dusseldorf, Germany, and May 27 concert in Colmar, France, are chronicled in the St. Cloud Times:

The oratorio was premiered in 2005 by the Rev. Michael J. O'Connell of the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis to celebrate two important events: the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps at the end of World War II and the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II document that condemned blaming Jews for the death of Christ. O'Connell witnessed the Natzweiler performance.

Performers on the European study tour will participate in a curriculum guided by the Jewish Studies Program and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at St. Cloud State that includes visits to churches, mosques, synagogues, museums, universities and the European Union Parliament.

- Marge Proell and Jeff Wood

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