QEP grant recipient Sherr commemorates Holocaust victims with new website
By Jonquil Harris
Courtesy of a grant received through Kennesaw State University’s
Artist Gunter Demnig and Sherr at Egelsbach Stolpersteine installation
Quality Enhancement Plan, Associate Professor of Music Laurence Sherr added pages to his faculty website dedicated to his musical compositions that memorialize the Holocaust. The newly designed site has allowed Sherr to reach out to students here as well as people abroad.
Implemented in 2007, the QEP serves as an accreditation tool to enhance student learning and the learning environment. Under the umbrella of the strategic plan, KSU adopted “Global Learning for Engaged Citizenship” as its focus, thereby creating opportunities over the next few years for students, faculty and staff to understand and participate in global affairs.
The initiative fell perfectly in line with works that Sherr was already involved in. As a child whose mother was the lone Holocaust survivor in her family, Sherr has always been moved to seek reconciliation and to use past experiences of oppressed people as a model for unity in today’s society.
“By learning about the hatred and the persecution during the Holocaust, one can generalize and see what we may be doing wrong in our society, what other societies may be doing wrong and be more aware of those thoughts and feelings so that the cycle will not repeat itself,” says Sherr. “By engendering tolerance, respect and appreciation of people across the spectrum of diversity, we can create a more understanding and tolerant future.”
The stones commemorate Holocaust victims and survivors: Alice Bacharach (second row) is Sherr's mother.
Photographs by Klaus-Dieter Zuhlke
Sherr’s original website consisted mainly of his general compositions, awards and honors. With the grant, he was able to add pages to the site dedicated to his personal experiences tied to the Holocaust. Under the link, Holocaust Works, visitors are able to view information about “Flame Language” and “Fugitive Footsteps,” pieces honoring Holocaust victims and survivors. Also included on these pages is the inspiration behind these particular pieces—poetry by Nobel Prize winner Nelly Sachs, who was also a survivor of the Holocaust.
The advanced website caught the eyes of The Working Group, German citizens who were researching stories of Jewish families afflicted by the Holocaust. Sherr was invited to travel to Egelsbach, Germany, his mother’s hometown, to participate in a memorial evening that included performances of his compositions and Klezmer and Yiddish music that Sherr performed on clarinet. The evening also included the sharing of family stories and histories. In remembrance of the victims, Sherr was able to witness artist Gunter Demnig lay Stolplersteine (“stumbling stones”) imprinted with his family member’s names in front of the house where they lived. “I found warm friendships and great interest. I was also able to collaborate with the hosts to achieve education, reconciliation and healing.”
Sherr credits his QEP grant with helping to bring awareness to the cause of diversity and acceptance. He is thankful to KSU for “supporting the work of professors who are doing research, creating new works and who are engendering greater understanding through public outreach and engagement in diversity.”