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'Eva Education Day' returns for fourth year in Indiana

This is the fourth year Gov. Eric Holcomb has made the proclamation to honor Eva Kor's life and legacy on Jan. 27.

INDIANAPOLIS — The story of Eva Kor is a story of strength, courage and forgiveness.

She was a Holocaust survivor who spent much of her life in Indiana.

It's a story that has captured the hearts of thousands, including Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The governor declared Jan. 27 "Eva Education Day" in the state of Indiana. It's the fourth year he has made the proclamation to honor Eva's life and legacy.

Her son, Alex, still can't believe it.

"My mom had such a unique relationship with Gov. Holcomb," Alex said.

Each year, the day serves as a reminder to share the history of the Holocaust and the stories of survivors.

"I want to make sure people are aware that they are exposed to this history," Alex said, "because unfortunately, as we see throughout the world, hate continues to rear its ugly head, whether it's against Jews or other ethnic groups or other religions. I think it's important for us to know what happened in the past."

Jan. 27 is also the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The day is recognized as "International Holocaust Remembrance Day."

In downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana Historical Society opened a new exhibit called "Eva Kor from Auschwitz to Indiana."

President and CEO Jody Blankenship said the display captures Eva's lifelong story with interactive oral histories, videos and experiences.

"That is not only intellectual, but it's also emotional," Blankenship said. "It is very hard to get that when you're just reading a book or watching a documentary. This is something that is multi-sensory, and it affects you as a whole person."

The exhibit also houses a virtual reality experience, taking guests back in time to a tour of Auschwitz, which is led by a holographic Eva.

"Whether you're 13 years old or 93 years old, I think it's something every Hoosier should see," Alex said.

Visitors can also ask questions to the woman at the center of it all.

"We have a program called Dimensions in Testimony," Blankenship said, "in which Eva Kor is shown in a holographic projection. You can ask her questions, and she'll respond to you."   

Blankenship said the interactive experiences allow Hoosiers to know Eva on a more personal level.

"She really is a whole person, multidimensional and complex," Blankenship said. "We want to make sure you understand her not just as a Holocaust survivor, but as a whole person."

"It allows me to think that my mom's messages and life lessons and stories will continue to be told for generations to come," Alex said.

The walls of the exhibit are covered in photos of Eva, her family, and her life before, during and after the Holocaust.

"You can see some of the work that Eva did," Blankenship said. "We have actual signs that she made in her protests. We have photos of her and the work she was doing."

In the display, Blankenship said guests witness how Eva managed to turn her experience and anger into a force for good. 

"I don't know how many people have the strength to do that," Blankenship said, "and it's one of the most admirable things about Eva."

Meanwhile in Terre Haute, work continues at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Its mission is to "contribute to the empowerment of the world through hope, healing, respect, and responsibility by shining a light on the story of the Holocaust, Eva Kor, the Mengele twins, and other survivors."

On Thursday, the museum opened a new exhibit, just before Eva Education Day in Indiana, honoring Eva's elaborate scarf collection.

"My mom would like to wear scarves around her neck," Alex said. "She told me, actually, that it was to hide her double chin!"

"Eva Kor from Auschwitz to Indiana" in Indianapolis is open now through Jan. 27, 2024.

"This is something that everybody should be exposed to," Alex said.

"Time flies fast," Blankenship said, "so don't wait too long."

You can find ticket information and hours at this link.

Blankenship said families can expect free parking for all visitors and an on-site cafe during their visit to the exhibit.

"To see people enjoying it, it warms your heart, and it makes you understand why we do what we do," Blankenship said.

The Indiana Historical Society is hosting an "Eva Education Day" on Saturday, Jan. 28. It will include educational activities, speakers, a documentary screening and more.

Eva passed away July 4, 2019. Next week, she would have celebrated her 89th birthday.

You can learn more about Eva Kor at this link.

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