Back for the 30th year, the Fran Eizenstat & Eizenstat Family Lecture took an emotional and creative turn for the inspired performance of Mona Golabek Nov. 1 at Ahavath Achim Synagogue. A world-renowned and Grammy-nominated concert pianist, Golabek re-created the story of her mother’s journey to England in 1938 on the Kindertransport children’s refugee rescue. Former U.S. Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Atlanta native and lifelong member of Ahavath Achim Synagogue, dedicated the concert to his late wife, Fran, whom he described as an eishes chayil (woman of valor). He also praised the event’s co-chairs, Joe Alterman, director of the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, and Miriam Strickman Levitas, who performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah” on the piano she donated to the synagogue prior to the main presentation.
It was rather fortuitous and perhaps a wise decision for Eizenstat to select a nonpolitical speaker in favor of Golabek’s healing message. Known for its A-list, past series speakers include U.S. presidents and vice presidents, secretaries of state, Nobel laureates, Supreme Court justices and the like. Eizenstat also once rotated in a cantor and choir.
Though there were roughly 1,000 in the audience, Eizenstat said he was disappointed the Atlanta school systems did not encourage student attendance as in other cities. Through her Hold On To Your Music Foundation, Golabek donated more than 300,000 copies of her book, “The Children of Willesdan Lane,” in more than 25 U.S. cities. It’s part of her mission to get Holocaust education into the hands of schools, teachers and students everywhere. The foundation seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the ethical implications of world events such as the Holocaust, and the power of the arts to embolden the human spirit.
No doubt this is a story that begs to be told.
Golabek performed a “one woman” show sans script to the darkened auditorium, laced with the chronological tale of the journey of her mother, Lisa Jura, while interspersing piano pieces and concertos.
Audience member Bernie Goldstein said, “I am an avid symphony fan, and this was quite unique. She is an excellent concert pianist in her own right.”
Alan Solon said, “This was very moving and touched my soul. The story needs to be told from generation to generation as Golabek does.”
Golabek is on to Pittsburgh where they could use some healing. “We can employ this use of music to combat evil,” Eizenstat said.
He continues to educate and inspire. For a closer look, see Ambassador Eizenstat at the Book Festival of the MJCCA Sunday, Nov. 11, during the Esther G. Levine Community Read. “The Children of Willesden Lane” is slated to premier as a major motion picture in 2020.