Compelling exhibition focuses on how Bosnians of every religion turned a synagogue into a humanitarian aid agency during the three-year siege of Sarajevo, 1992-1995
PHILADELPHIA March 12, 2014—The Free Library will host a new traveling exhibition entitled Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats during the Siege of Sarajevo, 1992-1995, in partnership with centropa.org, a Jewish historical institute dedicated to preserving 20th century Jewish family stories from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Opening March 31 through May 2, Survival in Sarajevo will be mounted on the second floor of the Parkway Central Library and will be free and open to the public during regular library hours.
Survival in Sarajevo tells the story of La Benevolencija, the non-sectarian humanitarian aid agency established by Jewish families in Sarajevo’s last remaining synagogue and through which more than 50 Jews and Muslims, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic Croats all worked together to provide aid—and hope—to an entire city besieged by war. Digitally printed on 10 panels that were designed in Vienna, edited in The Hague, and printed in Bucharest, Survival in Sarajevo paints a broad picture of Jewish history, from the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain in 1492 to the heroic deeds of the last Sephardim living in Sarajevo 500 years later.
“The Free Library is proud to host this compelling exhibition in partnership with centropa.org,” said Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon. “As a community center for lifelong learning, the Library is committed to hosting events and exhibitions, like Survival in Sarajevo, that encourage the critical examination of our past and present stories of hope and peace amidst conflict. I encourage all Philadelphians to visit Parkway Central to view this important exhibition.”
All contemporary photographs in the exhibition were taken between 1988 and 2008 by Edward Serotta, who covered the war in Bosnia and its aftermath for Time Magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, and ABC News Nightline. Mr. Serotta is an American Vienna-based writer, photographer, and filmmaker, who has published three books on Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe and produced four documentary films for Nightline. He is director of centropa.org.
Survival in Sarajevo’s showing in the Free Library of Philadelphia was made possible by Stephanie and Michael Naidoff, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joe Neubauer, Richard and Betsy Sheerr, Donna and Barry Feinberg, and The Milton A. and Rozlyn Z. Wolf Family Foundation. For more information please call 215-567-7710.
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The 54-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The combined holdings of these renowned collections—which include hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera—inspire unique exhibitions and programs throughout the year. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.