Expanding Eva’s Legacy: Troy Fears Leads CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center | Local News
Being Executive Director of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center responds to the two main activities Troy Fears has devoted his life to: education and nonprofit work.
Prior to starting CANDLES in July of this year, Fears taught at several local high schools and was principal at Terre Haute South. He was also the Executive Director of United Way of the Wabash Valley for seven years.
“When this position opened, I thought it would be a perfect fit for my education background and my nonprofit experience,” said Fears, originally from Terre Haute. “It sort of works in both areas. It’s been a good fit.”
Chris Newton, a Superior Court judge and CANDLES board member, agrees – he argued for Fears for the job.
“It seems like whatever Troy touches, he does it very, very well,” said Newton, whose children frequented Terre Haute Sud.
Fears “has been working hard to improve the athletics department and the facilities at Terre Haute Sud. When I saw his name on the list of candidates, I said, ‘How do we get it?’ When he thinks of something, he will be successful. He’s what we needed. We want to maintain our relevance, and he’s the perfect person to do it. I’m so glad to have him on board. “
Alex Kor, son of the late Eva Kor, a Holocaust survivor who founded the CANDLES Museum in 1995, agrees.
“Troy is a welcome addition to CANDLES,” Kor said. “He brings new energy and new ideas. With his background in education and fundraising, he ticks a lot of boxes. He will help us through this difficult time with the recent loss of my mother and the pandemic.”
Arriving at CANDLES, Fears said, “What impressed me the most was the board of trustees and the museum itself. As a long-time resident of Terre Haute, I know the background of ‘Eva and her commitment to building this museum, but I just thought it was the right time to step in and move the museum forward and develop Eva’s legacy. The challenge of doing that was what got me the most. excited. We’re doing a great job of reaching audiences, telling Eva’s story. “
Fears has launched a series of rotating exhibits provided by Yad Vashem, the Global Holocaust Museum located in Israel. “SHOAH: How was that humanly possible?” a detailed timeline of events leading up to and following the Holocaust now runs through October 30.
The next step will be “Stars Without A Heaven: Children of the Holocaust”, exhibited from November 5 to January 1, 2022. A list of future exhibitions is available on Candlesholocaustmuseum.org.
Alex Kor said: “The schedule of rotating exhibitions for the next few months is quite impressive. It gives people a whole new reason to come to the museum and explore.
Fears also continued the museum’s search for Holocaust artifacts. He traveled to Chicago last week, where the Illinois Holocaust Museum gave him, among other items, a Nazi flag and a copy of Adolph Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf” which had been handed over. to a German couple at their wedding in a local courthouse in 1939..
Emily Thurston, CANDLES Marketing and Communications Coordinator, said: “It’s strange how someone’s wedding gift was a copy of this book.”
Eva Kor rose to international fame for openly forgiving Dr Hans Munch, one of the doctors at the Auschwitz concentration camp where she and her twin sister Miriam were experienced. She recorded interviews with him in 1993, and when they met at Auschwitz in 1995, Munch signed documents confirming the existence of the gas chambers, while she granted personal amnesty to all Nazis.
“Not everyone has the same opinion of forgiveness,” Fears noted. “There are a lot of people who haven’t forgiven and don’t understand how you could. Eva was able to heal and move on after forgiving. She spoke to people who couldn’t forgive. She wanted to hear. everyone’s point of view. She understood and didn’t force it on anyone else. “
Fears has high hopes for the museum in the future. A trip to Auschwitz is scheduled for June 2022 if the pandemic recedes as hoped and travel protocols are suitable.
“We’re ready, we’re just very optimistic,” Thurston said.
A long-discussed goal of moving into the former First Financial Bank building on Wabash in downtown Terre Haute may continue next year. Currently, Indiana Landmarks is renovating and stabilizing the building in collaboration with a couple of architects from the museum’s board of directors. Fears hopes to personally inspect the building in the spring of 2022.
“It’s a beautiful building with a lot of history,” Fears said, noting that it’s close to other local museums and the new convention center.
“We’ll see if it suits us perfectly. A new, larger museum would allow CANDLES to expand its interactive theater “Dimensions In Testimony”, in which Eva Kor and other survivors answer questions from members of the public from a comprehensive series of recorded film clips by the USC Shoah Foundation, so that survivors appear as 3D holograms rather than on a 2D movie screen.
CANDLES has been closed for much of the pandemic and is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, the museum will be open on Monday, October 11 to accommodate schools to visit during the autumn holidays. Groups are also encouraged to contact the museum at (812) 234-7881 to arrange private tours during the week.
In the meantime, Fears continues to both plan for the museum’s future and deepen his own knowledge of the atrocities of the Holocaust.
He said, “I learn something new every day I come in here.