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Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America; Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art

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On Tuesday, October 10th, we started our day by going to the "Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage" to take in its excellent new exhibition, "Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America" which was created by the "Jewish Museum of Maryland" with support from the "National Endowment from the Humanities" and "Institute of Museum and Library Services" with the "Maltz Museum" adding local content pertaining to Cleveland.

Much of the latter concerned a section devoted to the history and the achievements of the "Mt. Sinai Hospital" established in 1916 to train Jewish doctors and to serve the needs of the greater Cleveland community regardless of race and/or ethnicity. Other sections dealt with the first Jewish doctors in Cleveland some of whom were immigrants, discrimination that Jewish people training to be medical professionals underwent regarding institutes of learning they sought to attend, contributions of the Jewish people to early physical fitness programs in Cleveland, the important but often overlooked role of the local pharmacist in the health of his neighborhood, and the invaluable role that nurses have played in the medical profession over the years.

Indeed, it was also stated in a passage on the wall that "Jews have always considered medicine a calling-not just an occupation, but an opportunity to improve both themselves and the world. from their ancient homeland to every country of the Diaspora, Jewish physicians and surgeons practiced despite prejudice and persecution. Always facing the possibility of violence or expulsion, Jews saw professions like medicine as a refuge; unlike a shop or a factory, knowledge is portable. Ultimately they encountered discrimination even in the United States, yet their efforts here would constitute enduring contributions to the well-being of people beyond the globe."

Fortunately. our docent/guide for the tour that we took was Mr. Shelly Hartman, a retired attorney well-versed in U.S. history and very familiar with discriminatory practices so his insights added a lot to what we were seeing.

The exhibition ended with another passage of writing entitled the "The Changing Face of Medicine" which read, in part, that "the percentage of medical school applications from Jews has declined, while new immigrants and minority groups are bringing their diverse voices to healthcare in even greater numbers. Today's medical students are building on a legacy left by earlier generations, including Jews, who broke down barriers."

Later that day we gathered with many of our international friends at "Transformer Station" on West 29th Street to learn about "Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art" a very exciting event that is being planned for 2018 that will take place in various venues in mostly the Cleveland area between July 14th and September 30th.

Mr. Joe Cimperman, the President of "Global Cleveland", introduced the program by stating that art can be a great investor and that this project should make us all the more appreciative of our cultural roots because it will contain the works of artists from all over the globe. 

Mr. Cimperman then introduced Mr. Fred Bidwell, the Executive Director of "Front International" who explained that 2018 will be the launch of this international arts festival expected to take place every three years in Cleveland. He described it as a global event expected to "connect Cleveland to the world and bring the world to Cleveland" which will take place in 10 art galleries and 15 non-traditional venues in the Cleveland area as well as locations in Oberlin and Akron featuring the works of 45 artists from around the world many of whom will come to Cleveland to exhibit their works. In fact, some plan to be here even sooner and work at "The Madison" which is an a campus that has been created near East 105th Street and Wade Park Avenue.

Mr. Wilson expressed high hope for what this festival could do for Cleveland in terms of its reputation as an international city comparing its potential to that of the renowned "Documenta 13" which takes place in Kassel, Germany every five years and has transformed the city. Mr. Bidwell talked of how the "Cleveland Triennial..." is expected to attract at least 300,000 visitors with approximately 100,000 of these coming from outside of the region. It has an $5 million budget and is expected to generate some $50 million for the Northeast Ohio region.

As stated in the program notes the title of this introductory festival in 2018 will be "An American City" and "the themes and ideas explored by artists will be authentically rooted in the spirit of Cleveland and its region. They will connect our history and our future will issues and ideas that are universal."

One exhibit that certainly is of interest to us will be created in the card catalogue room of the "Cleveland Public Library" by London-based artist Mr. Yinka Shonibare and will feature the stories of 6,000 people who immigrated to the United States from various other countries. The attendee will be able to access each story via the computer and then write her/his own story which will be preserved online.

As Mr. Cimperman said, we hope that this festival will contribute to sending the message that Cleveland is very welcoming to all peoples even those who do not happen to look like us regardless of what the federal government is doing.

Just what the federal government in doing pertaining to immigration was the topic of Ms. Debbie Kline's presentation at the meeting of the West Side Democratic Club that took place that evening at the Western Cuyahoga Lodge, FOP Hall #25 on Center Ridge Road in Westlake.

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Ms. Kline is the director of "Cleveland Jobs for Justice" and has engaged in community organizing activities for worthy causes for some 30 years now. During his introduction, Mr. Vern Long, the club president, upheld Ms. Kline for being a "super activist who has always been a great resource over the years.

Mr. Long, a retired high school history teacher, also had on display copies of the famous "Looking Backward" cartoon which depicts 19th century men of wealth and power waving away a travel-weary immigrant even though they, themselves, are descendants of immigrants. Mr. Long said that this cartoon has been featured in every history book he ever taught from.

In the course of her presentation, Ms. Kline focused on DACA and the necessity of the passage of a Dream Act that will contain provisions that will help the families of the dreamers but will not, as the President wants, contain provisions allowing the building of the proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Ms. Kline talked how she has been motivated to take action on this issue by the fact that undocumented workers are often exploited by their employers; her "bone-chilling" recent conversations/encounters with certain ICE agents; and her relationship with a young mother facing deportation. She is almost tremendously inspired by the dreamers and their efforts to fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs.

Along these lines, Ms. Kline discussed the need to come up with innovative actions to take which will draw attention to these issues such as the one last week where over 800 paper dolls signifying the dreamers were wrapped around Willard Park not far from U.S. Senator Rob Portman's Cleveland office . As for U.S. Senator Portman, Ms. Kline urged us to keep putting the pressure on him because even if he were to sign on to the Dream Act as one of its sponsors it would be truly significant and a real boon on its behalf.

In terms of community organizing for the passage of the Dream Act, Ms. Kline believes, as we do, that it is not worth the effort to try to talk to people who have already made up their minds (sadly there are quite a few of these) but it is most worthwhile to converse with those who are on the fence by making it known that undocumented people are rarely dangerous criminals, do pay taxes although they are not eligible for public assistance programs, and are an excellent economic asset to our communities.

Above all, Ms. Kline wanted to impart to everyone there that night not to become discouraged because she, herself, has been told "no" many times but has seen remarkable things happen when people ban together and work for what they believe in.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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