All News

Opening of Light and Shadows at UCLA Fowler Museum


Festive celebrations mark opening of Light and Shadows at UCLA’s Fowler Museum


Hundreds of families gathered at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Los Angeles on Sunday, October 21st to celebrate the public opening of the highly acclaimed Beit Hatfutsot Exhibition Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews. The opening celebrations kicked off on Saturday evening with an exciting private VIP reception which was attended by many prominent leaders of the Los Angeles Community, first and foremost Younes Nazarian and his wife the sculptress Soraya Nazarian, Dr. Sharon Nazarian and members of the Nazarian Family whose foundation, The Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, is the lead sponsor for this exhibition.


The distinguished guests at the Saturday night reception included friends of the Fowler Museum and Beit Hatfutsot, philanthropists Diane and Guilford Glazer and Herta and Paul Amir, Nancy Berman and Alan Bloch, Wendy Greuel, Controller of the city of Los Angeles, and her husband producer Dean Schramm, Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple; Beit Hatfutsot leaders Irina Nevzlin Kogan, Chair of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot, Moti Schwartz, Acting Director of Beit Hatfutsot, Judy Stern Peck, President of the American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot, Dr. Ruth Shamir Popkin, member of the Board of Directors of Beit Hatfutsot, Rita Spiegel member of the Board of Governors and AFBH Board, David and Claire Ellman of San Diego, Joel and Barbara Aaronson, Major General (res.) Eitan Ben Eliahu, Shulamith Bahat, CEO, Beit Hatfutsot of America; Liebe Geft, Director of the Museum of Tolerance, Patrick Gallagher, the prominent Museum designer who leads the planning team for the new Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot, and many others who came especially from Israel, Europe and other parts of the US.


“We are thrilled that the Fowler Museum chose to bring Light and Shadows to Los Angeles and to share the story of Persian Jewry with a new audience.” said Irina Nevzlin Kogan at the opening program, “This exhibition is part of Beit Hatfutsot’s effort to present the stories of different Jewish communities around the world in a way that highlights not only the past, but also the present. We hope such efforts will help all people understand the concept of peoplehood. And we hope that younger Jews who visit exhibitions of this kind will feel part of an extraordinary people that continues to thrive all around the world.”


During the evening guests were treated to a sneak preview of this ground-breaking exhibition before it opened to the general public the next day. The Shirley & Ralph Shapiro Director of the Fowler Museum, Marla C. Berns opened the evening, warmly welcoming the invitees who were then addressed by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block as well as by Younes Nazarian and Dr. Sharon Nazarian; the guests heard a Poem recitation in Persian and English by radio personality Jaleh Benshian.


The Festivities continued the next day with a lively Opening Day Community Celebration. Visitors took part in family art activities inspired by the exhibition, enjoyed a Persian cultural exchange with artist Marjan K. Vayghan, sharing food, memories, and poetry, and experienced a brief santur performance by UCLA freshman Timothy Halimi. As the day continued the crowd was addressed by Younes Nazarian and Rabbi David Shofet who welcomed the crowd, commenting "Beit Hatfutsot highlights the magnificent diversity of the Jewish community.  We are made of many colors that create one rainbow."   Visitors were then invited to a fascinating lecture on “The Tapestry of Iranian Jewish Heritage: Reflections on Historical, Sociocultural and Political Relations” delivered by Nahid Pirnazar, lecturer in Iranian Studies, UCLA.


The Celebrations also included an intimate Shabbat Dinner that was held at the home of Dr. Ruth Shamir Popkin in honor of the Nazarian family and in recognition of the Fowler and Beit Hatfutsot leaders who made the exhibit possible.


In all, the opening events were exceptionally successful with approximately one thousand people attending. The Fowler Museum and Beit Hatfutsot are offering the public more than an exhibition; they are offering a gateway to experiencing Jewish peoplehood; by bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the Jews of Iran.


Light and Shadows will be on show at the Fowler Museum at UCLA until March 10, 2013. A number of companion exhibitions and events are taking place at other Los Angeles institutions including Hillel at UCLA, the Jewish Federation Bell Family Gallery and 'My Heart is in the East and I Am at the Ends of the West', an exhibit of contemporary art which opened at the new Shulamith Gallery in Venice, CA. Follow this link for a full list of related exhibitions and events.


The lead sponsor for the exhibition is the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation.


The exhibition partner at the Fowler Museum is the Jewish Federation of Greater
Los Angeles.


Additional generous support comes from the Farhang Foundation and Sinai


The original presentation of the exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot was made possible by generous gifts from The David Berg Foundation, the Diamond Charity Foundation, the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, the Maccabee Foundation and individual philanthropist, the Global Mashadi Jewish Federation, members of the Iranian Jewish community as well as other Jewish communities.