In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, the Cielsa Foundation, in conjunction with the office of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, hosted a screening and reception of Rosenwald at the Library of Congress on Monday, May 21, 2018.
We were very excited to have had the opportunity to continue to share the story of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and legacy of the Rosenwald Schools.
We were honored to have Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), Congressman Danny Davis (IL), and Congressman G.K Butterfield (NC) share their personal stories which offered a unique perspective on the impact of Rosenwald and the Jewish American community. We were also very appreciative to have Congressman Hank Johnson (GA), whose mother attended a Rosenwald school, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) in attendance.
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, the driving force behind the resolution that declared an annual Jewish American Heritage Month in May, shared her personal story of being a second generation Jewish American. She noted how incredible it is that even though her family has only been in America for two generations, she was elected to serve as Florida’s first Jewish Congresswoman. The Congresswoman also spoke of the Jewish teaching of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, which is embodied through her work and the work of Julius Rosenwald.
The Rosenwald schools had great impact on Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago, who is interviewed in the film, recalled growing up in the South and hearing about the schools. Even though Congressman Danny Davis did not attend a Rosenwald school, he said that the influence of Rosenwald and the Sears organization was felt throughout his community once he moved North. The betterment Julius Rosenwald was able to provide for his community, whether by his schools or Sears catalogs, gave Davis hope and the inspiration needed to dream of something greater for himself and his community.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina spoke of the impact Rosenwald had on the communities he represents. North Carolina is home to the most Rosenwald Schools of any southern state. Congressman Butterfield spoke earnestly about the Rosenwald schools where his own mother taught. He recalled attending a Rosenwald school alumni reunion in his hometown, where Viola Pittman Boone, 83, stood up and asked to recite “The Julius Rosenwald Song” that she recalled singing every morning as a young girl at her school, The Eden-Rosenwald Elementary School.
The Julius Rosenwald Song
(Composer unknown- the lyrics to this song are based on the memories of Viola Pittman Boone at age 83. She recalled that she and her 4th grade classmates sang this song each morning at the Eden-Rosenwald Elementary School and thinks it may have been composed by her teacher, Ms. Bland but cannot confirm. )
No one will ever know,
Just what his coming has been.
Because we loved him so,
It was something Heaven-send.
It was Julius Rosenwald,
Who would never let us fall.
He answered every call,
Of this dear race of ours.
Director Aviva Kempner introduced the film and explained how hearing civil activist Julian Bond speak at Martha’s Vineyard 15 years back inspired her to make the film. She dedicated the showing to D.C. residents obtaining voting rights!
We were incredibly honored and proud that during Jewish American Heritage month, we joined with both African American and Jewish elected congressional officials in the Library of Congress to celebrate Julius Rosenwald, continue Tikkun Olam and support one anothers communities.