Contact: Erin Whipple, 617-358-1688 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston – Boston University’s Florence and Chafetz Hillel House in partnership with the New Center for Arts and Culture will present The Power of Prejudice: The Dreyfus Affair at the 808 Commonwealth Gallery at Boston University. This compelling exhibition featuring documents, cartoons, film, video, and other artifacts, begins February 27 and runs through April 6. Admission is free and open to the public. The hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The exhibition chronicles the story of Captain Alfred Dreyfus against the explosive background of his times. Born in French Alsace, the fiercely patriotic Dreyfus was the first Jew to rise to the rank of major in the general staff of the French Army. He was falsely accused of treason, twice tried and wrongfully convicted, imprisoned on Devil’s Island, and ultimately exonerated after an international uproar.
“We are proud to bring this compelling exhibition to Boston,” said Daniel Neuman, CEO of the New Center for Arts and Culture. “It is an opportunity for us to examine one of the most famous cases in history, and it’s continued relevance in the world today.”
Joseph Polak, Rabbi to the Jewish community at Boston University, pointed out that Dreyfus was convicted on the basis of both falsified and hidden evidence, in court martials not accountable to anyone and hidden from public scrutiny. “Sound familiar?” the Rabbi asked. “It’s also a story with a good ending — he was rescued by the French intellectuals and exonerated — and a bad one: the French street chants during the trial of ‘Death to the Jews’ anticipated the Holocaust.”
The Dreyfus Affair, as it was known, remains a seminal event in late-19th century French history, which still resonates today. This exhibit is based on Dreyfus – The Fight for Justice, organized by the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, (The Museum of the Art and History of Judaism) Paris, with original objects from the Lorraine Beitler Collection of the Dreyfus Affair at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Power of Prejudice explores how the case led to the separation of church and state in France; issues of military vs. civilian justice; and how it became the first modern “trial in the press.” The exhibition also reflects the impact of the case on one journalist who covered the trial, Theodor Herzl, and caused him to accelerate plans for a sovereign Jewish state.
In addition to the exhibition, a symposium entitled Catalyst to History: Why Dreyfus Matters will take place on Sunday, March 2 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Jacob Sleeper Auditorium at BU, with panelists Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Jeffrey Mehlman, University Professor and Professor of French Literature at Boston University; Robert Zelnick, Journalism Professor of National Security Studies at Boston University and Eugene R. Sheppard, Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought at Brandeis University. Dan Abrams, NBC News Chief Legal Affairs correspondent, will moderate.
The exhibition and related programs are free and open to the public.
About The Florence and Chafetz Hillel House at Boston University
The Florence and Chafetz Hillel House has served for close to seventy years as an educational, social, cultural, and religious center for the Jewish community and its friends at Boston University. Boasting one of the most beautiful centers of its kind in the world, it has been praised by faculty, presidents, alumni and students for its role as a source of conscience for the university as a whole, and for being a catalyst for community for the scores of thousands who have been touched by its programs. It has won awards for its programs, publications and exhibits exposing hatred and affirming the values that can emerge from an awareness of history and memory. It is also a very happy place where thousands of students gather and partake in its thirty-plus student organizations and adventures. Please visit www.bu.edu/hillel.
About the New Center for Arts and Culture
The New Center for Arts and Culture connects the people of Boston and the world through exploration of the creative arts, diverse cultures and contemporary ideas, to foster mutual understanding and appreciation among people of all backgrounds and ages.
Inspired by the differences and commonalities that comprise our pluralistic society, the New Center presents the richness of world cultures through dynamic exhibitions, performances, lectures and family programming. To be located on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in an extraordinary building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the New Center brings together people of all cultures through their arts, a mission envisioned by its founders, the Jewish community of Greater Boston. Please visit www.ncacboston.org.
About the 808 Gallery, Boston University
The 808 Gallery is located at 808 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, on the first floor of the former Peter Fuller Cadillac building. It is the site of the graduate (MFA) painting thesis exhibition each spring and other exhibitions scheduled by the School of Visual Arts throughout the academic year.
Gallery Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.