The Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP) at Binghamton University (SUNY) had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Tamara Reps Freeman as a I-GMAP Practitioner-in-Residence in March 2019. Dr. Freeman spoke to and performed in multiple classes in fields as diverse as comparative literature, education, music, and Judaic studies. She provided a public recital and talk on Holocaust Songs of Hope and Spiritual Resistance: The Music and Stories of Ghetto and Lagern Prisoners, and she facilitated a continuing education training workshop for social workers on Diversity and Oppression. From each of these sessions and from the more informal conversations that students, faculty, staff and administrators had with Tamara during her visit, the feedback I received was overwhelmingly and unconditionally positive. People were truly touched by the power of her message and music, and the gentleness of her inner spirit. Tamara lives fully in each moment and, in doing so, she demonstrates that she values every person and every interaction to its fullest. In a world in which so many people give so little attention to everything as they try to multitask, it was refreshing and a great reminder for me to spend time with someone who gives her full attention to the person in front of her at any given moment. Beyond the power of the music itself, the story of her viola and the compelling history of composers, musicians and ordinary people that she helps us remember, the way Dr. Reps Freeman uses these historical elements to address current conflicts serves as a model of atrocity prevention.
- Nadia Rubaii, PhD, Co-Director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and Professor of Public Administration, Binghamton University, State University of New York.
As I reflect on the many months of preparation for the March 26, 2018 Voices of Hope Holocaust Concert in Nashville, I want to express my gratitude for the work that you are doing and the impact that Voices of Hope had on my students. I want to thank you for the lesson plans, literature, original music, Holocaust history, artistic advisement and encouragement. The Face-Time session with you, along with Monday's dress rehearsal, both elevated our students to another level of choral artistry and knowledge. My students learned how the universal language of music connects people from all walks of life, across time spans and within cultures. During our debriefing and class reflections, the students' comments sent chills up my spine.
On behalf of my principal, Miss Trellaney Lane and my students, our deepest thanks and appreciation to you for a wonderful, life-changing experience!
- Nita Smith, M. A. Ed.
Choral and General Music, Creswell Middle Prep School of the Arts
Your presentation at Bergen Community College was outstanding from every perspective. Your enthralling rendition of the historic pieces was superb. Your playing of the beautiful viola, with its meaningful history, came alive in your skillful hands. From an educational perspective, your unique presentation created a spellbound audience. Your excellent interpretation of the music, and the unique manner in which you presented the material, provided a wonderful array of music for us. Your multiple talents enthralled the audience from the moment you began your presentation until its conclusion. Many thanks.
Professor Margot Brandes
Bergen County, NJ Community College
I cannot thank you enough for today’s presentation. We have had many speakers over the years, but your subject matter partnered with with your skills at interacting with the group and managing our students participation really stood out. The students (and teachers!) were fully engaged throughout and the feedback was incredibly positive. You truly brought out the best in our students. Thank you again for a very special presentation. Looking forward to collaborating in the future,
Sinai School principal, River Edge NJ
Dr. Tamara Freeman combines her historical knowledge and her musical talent to present a fascinating story of Holocaust and Holocaust-inspired music. That her instrument is part of the story makes it even more compelling. I recommend Dr. Freeman for any audience interested in the arts or any group that wants to learn about the creative, heroic spirit of the Jews amidst the tragedy of the Holocaust.
- Rabbi Steven Sirbu, Temple Emeth, Teaneck, New Jersey
I am writing to tell you how wonderful a program you presented to our synagogue. People are still talking about it and asking why we cannot have more presentations of that caliber. You were magnificent. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Shammai Engelmayer, Rabbi, Temple Israel Community Center of Cliffside Park, NJ and Temple Beth Or of North Bergen, NJ
“We were so fortunate to have Dr. Tamara Freeman's presentation in Memphis this year and your workshop has generated much excitement around the state. We hope to work with Dr. Freeman again soon in both Nashville and Knoxville!
Our theme for this year’s west Tennessee annual Holocaust conference was Music of the Holocaust. We invited Dr. Tamara Freeman, Holocaust ethnomusicologist, to facilitate a workshop with educators and students from the west Tennessee area. Dr. Freeman brought her viola. She worked in advance with choir directors, music teachers, and a local survivor to prepare them to perform pieces during the workshop. She had prepared a handout for the students with songs that were composed in the ghettos and camps during the Holocaust, and performed the music for us. She shared the backgrounds of each of the composers and lyricists, including when they lived (and died), and provided the English translations. She involved the students in sharing what they were experiencing through the music, and in relating what they were learning from this music to what they already knew about the Holocaust. At the end of the session, the participants wrote poetry that reflected what they had learned during the workshop. It was incredible to see how moved they were by the music and the lyrics, and the stories Tamara told about the musicians. Most moving was a high school student who requested to sing the poem she had composed which prompted a spontaneous standing ovation.
Dr. Tamara Freeman with Holocaust survivors at the Belz Museum, Memphis, TN
I am sure that most of the students who attended the conference expected to perform a piece and listen politely to their peers but much “accidental learning” happened during this workshop which I am sure these students will remember for years to come. Students spoke of what music means to them personally, in times of happiness and times of stress and sadness. They recognized how music was used to maintain Jewish culture and humanity even in the darkest times and, also, how composing, playing, and singing this music helped to maintain hope. As one of our conference participants wrote, “As we sang along with Dr. Freeman you could feel the hurt and pain of the composers. However, I finally realized that the soulful musical expressions gave the Jewish people hope and determination to survive. Their music of comfort is what helped Holocaust survivors like Mr. Samuel Weinreich cope with his daily struggles. What a positive way to tell a story that should never be forgotten. One of the most moving moments of this performance involved having survivors accompany her in singing "Zog Nit Keynmol" ("Never Say You are Walking the Final Road") composed in 1943.
Dr. Tamara Freeman is not only a wonderful performer but a master teacher who is able to demonstrate the power of integrating music education with history and literacy. I recommend her highly and consider it a privilege to have been able to learn from someone with such expertise!”
- Danielle Kahane-Kaminsky, Executive Director
Tennesse Holocaust Commission
The presentation that Tamara gave us during Mass was profound and touching. Everyone is still talking about it. It was a completely different approach to our yearly study of the Holocaust, especially for a Christian Community that has been profoundly changed as weak at the horrific events created by mankind. Her presentation was spellbinding and moved everyone. We are all so grateful to have had her share her experience as well as her professional musical training and research.......The Rev. Dale L. Cranston, Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Suffern, New York."
“We are so grateful to you for the wonderful presentation. Everyone who attended your "Music of the Holocaust" program had an incredible experience in hearing you play the viola, and in sharing the history of, and experiences with, the music of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. You made us hear, and feel... You are a wonderful ethnomusicologist, and your expertise in conveying the music of the Holocaust to a wide spectrum of diverse people is amazing. Thank you for coming to share this wonderful program for our 24th annual College of Saint Elizabeth Week of Holocaust Remembrance.”
- Dr. Harriet Sepinwall, Professor of Holocaust Studies
Co-Director, College of Saint Elizabeth Holocaust Education Resource Center
“The Museum of Tolerance New York was honored to have Dr. Tamara Freeman conduct her recital/workshop, “Children's Music from the Vilna Ghettos: Songs of Hope and Spiritual Resistance,” for our Holocaust Remembrance program this year. Dr. Freeman led two different workshops, one for a middle-school and one for a high-school. I was extremely touched by the students’ responses to Dr. Freeman and her message of music’s ability to provide hope and strength. The students were engaged, attentive, and actively participated. Dr. Freeman’s work is truly inspiring and provided a unique addition to the MOTNY’s Holocaust Remembrance programming. ”
- Dr. Natasha Poor
Manager of Education and Outreach Programs
Museum of Tolerance New York
“We are indebted to Dr. Tamara Freeman for bringing her immense musical and vocal ability, as well as dedication to Holocaust education, to our community, impacting and inspiring children and adults alike. Dr. Freeman conducted six student workshops in which she both taught and engaged the students in the rich and moving history of music of the Holocaust. Her gentle demeanor and interactive teaching style involved the students immediately. Not only did they learn a new element of Holocaust history but songs and stories of individuals as well, truly personalizing this history for them.
During her recital, Dr. Freeman’s elegant performance of songs written by partisans and prisoners of the ghettos and concentration camps moved many in the audience to tears, as it was both poignant and haunting. Thank you, Dr. Freeman for sharing your talent and passion with our students and community. ”
- Jamie Williams, Education Director
El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center
“The Holocaust music conference for students and teachers with Dr. Tamara R. Freeman, Holocaust Ethnomusicologist was informative and empowering. Dr. Freeman's passion for children was easily seen as she captivated their attention for almost three hours. The 200 children were eager to interact with all participants as they expressed compassion for those persecuted. I will use several of the skills that Dr. Freeman demonstrated to reach teens in our outreach program. As we sang along with Dr. Freeman you could feel the hurt and pain of the composers. However, I finally realized that the soulful musical expressions gave the Jewish people hope and determination to survive. Their music of comfort is what helped Holocaust survivors like Mr. Samuel Weinreich cope with his daily struggles. What a positive way to tell a story that should never be forgotten.”
- Earnestine Benton
Stand Firm Group
“Dr. Tamara Freeman is an outstanding scholar-in-residence. Extremely diligent and organized in her preparations, she helped us to effectively plan each aspect of her visit. Part of the pre-event planning included publicity and she was most generous with her time in speaking to the local media. As a teacher and presenter she was extraordinarily effective, poised and professional. Dr. Freeman possesses great erudition, judgment, historical knowledge and musical skill, and instructs with sensitivity. We look forward to her return!”
- Rabbi Eric Polokoff, B’nai Israel of Southbury, CT
“Dr. Freeman, Your performance was such an essential component of our community Yom Hashoah program this year. Our community’s understanding of hope and despair was deepened in the meaningful musical pieces that you played and stories behind each one. It was so impactful to see community members from Holocaust Survivors to young families with small children pack the Golub Auditorium to share, care and cry together. People are still talking about the impact you made.”
- Mark Weintraub, Executive Director – Robert and Dorothy Ludwig JCC
“My students were very inspired by your Holocaust workshop. Your gentle, artful approach to this difficult topic helped ease the class into feeling a personal and professional connection to Holocaust music. Consequently, they were eager to share, ask questions, and respond to your prompts. The choice of pictoral illustrations and music was very engaging as you skillfully established a context for seeing/hearing the emotional dimension of the people. You clearly bridged an important gap between "us and them" when you had us compose a short song based on our own (or someone else's) difficult moments in life. Thank you, Tamara, for a thoughtful, sensitive workshop. Hope you can come again.”
- Dr. Lisa C. DeLorenzo
Professor and Graduate Coordinator of Music Education
John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University
Executive Director, New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education
“Thank you for a most meaningful and special evening of Holocaust music. You have put another face on a tragic time in our life. Your program was so moving and touched everyone in the audience.”
- Mrs. Sylvia Berger
“Thank you for your program, "Teaching Tolerance Through the Music of the Holocaust." I am so pleased that our sixth grade class was able to join us to hear your important and moving message. The response to your presentation has been just remarkable. It was a pleasure working with you.”
- Rabbi David K. Holtz
Temple Beth Abraham, Tarrytown, NY
“Dr. Tamara Freeman conducted a teachers’ study day at Seton Hall University on March 10, 2010 in an exemplary fashion. The theme was “Music in Holocaust Education.” She gave the keynote presentation, “Musical humanity amidst Holocaust atrocities,” followed by a performance on the violin entitled “Music rising from the ashes: Songs of longing and resistance from Holocaust ghettos and concentration camps.” In the afternoon she conducted a workshop “Using music from Holocaust ghettos to encourage racial respect.” Dr. Freeman is an innovative musician and teacher with a special talent for involving her audience in both the poignancy of the situation from which this music arose and application to contemporary situations. She interacted with the audience of educators in a way that brought very positive evaluations.”
- Father Lawrence Frizzell, S.T.L., S.S.L., D. Phil.
Associate Professor and Chair of Jewish-Christian Studies, Department of Religion
Seton Hall University
“Your presentation was an essential component for our community to feel the pain of loss as we remembered the suffering we endured as a people. Your gift was more than music-- it was the ability to let tears fall as we recall the loss of lives and the scars that should never completely heal. As you held that precious viola, you told its stories with true passion and you let the music radiate from its essence so that we felt a personal connection to its story. There was not a dry eye in the room when you played that first note. Mere words of gratitude cannot capture my sincerest appreciation for helping us not just remember but to feel that sense of utter destruction we endured during the Holocaust.”
- Rabbi Matthew Cutler, Congregation Gates of Heaven, Schenectady, NY
“When Tamara played the Partisan Song, Zog Nit Keynmol, it reminded me of Vilna and my brother singing the song as a young boy. All of her music was beautiful and it reminded me of days long ago. We loved the lecture-recital so much and we have asked Tamara to return for a repeat performance for Yom HaShoah. She reminded us of our homelands. There was not a dry eye listening to her music! May Tamara go from strength to strength.”
- Cyla Kowenski
Holocaust survivor from Vilna who now resides in New Jersey
“Every two years, Fieldstone Middle School offers a school-wide, state-recognized program called Respect, Reflect, and Remember Day. 3R’s Day is filled with the memories and experiences of courageous and generous people who have positively impacted upon others. We have been fortunate to have Dr. Freeman participate in this comprehensive program since its origin in 2007. Through the music on her viola, which is a Holocaust relic, Dr. Freeman transforms our school into a beautiful setting to communicate the tragic story of the holocaust. From her performance during the opening ceremony to her presentations, her message and her music touches the hearts of students and audience members. She leaves us with a wide range of emotions, but above all, her message inspires us. Dr. Freeman plays an integral role in our 3R’s Day program, and we look forward to provide her with the venue to bring the Holocaust to life at Fieldstone Middle School.”
- Mark R. Maire
Principal, Fieldstone Middle School
“Thank you for being a part of our 3R’s Day. I was very impressed by the amazing music you played. I was not aware how much of an impact music can have on your life. Thank you so much for your presentation.”
- Alex - 6th Grade Student
“Thank you for teaching us how to sing the songs and for showing us the amazing book. I had a wonderful time learning about the concerts. I can only imagine the joy music brought to the people who experienced it. I hope to see you at our next 3R’s Day.”
- Allie- 6th Grade Student
“I am glad that you came to Fieldstone Middle School. I am happy you came to teach us about music, as I am interested in this topic. Your viola is beautiful, and so is your music. Thank you very much.”
- Riya - 6th Grade Student
“Thank you for participating in our school's 3R’s Day. The music you played was touching and inspirational, especially for musicians such as myself. Everyting you spoke about and played represented the Holocaust. The instrument you played was a symbol of survival. Thank you for coming to teach us.”
- Chloe - 6th Grade Student