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LOHS student Margo Sidline has planned a film screening and discussion to prompt a dialogue about intolerance

SUBMITTED PHOTO: PARTISAN PICTURES - Actor Petr Louzensky stars as Rafael Schachter in the documentary 'Defiant Requiem,' which tells the story of a young Czech conductor who was arrested and sent to the TerezÍn Concentratuion Camp in 1941.Lake Oswego High School student Margo Sidline hopes to change the culture of intolerance she feels is present at her school.

"For years at LOHS, there has been intolerance," Sidline says. "But over the past year and a half, I have become aware and have experienced it more poignantly. Last year, we talked a lot about the racism that was apparent in the community, but as a Jewish student, I am very aware of the anti-Semitism and other religious intolerance and misinformation that exists here too."

SUBMITTED PHOTO: PARTISAN PICTURES - Rafael Schachter's suitcase contains a Verdi score and other personal belongings in a scene from the award-winning documentary 'Defiant Requiem.'Sidline writes for the school newspaper, Lake Views, and decided to publish an article addressing her observations. But when she received a hateful and anti-Semitic comment about the article, she decided she needed to do more. So from 7-9 p.m. on Jan. 10, she will host a film screening and discussion panel in the LOHS auditorium, featuring the documentary "Defiant Requiem."

"I thought showing a documentary and having an informed discussion about it would be a great way to begin a larger solution to a tricky problem," Sidline says.

"Defiant Requiem" is the story of Rafael Schachter, a young Czech conductor who was arrested in 1941 and sent to a Nazi concentration camp called Terezin. While imprisoned, Schachter made an incredible impression on the rest of the prisoners, lifting their spirits and moods through music.

According to the filmmakers, "his most extraordinary act was to recruit 150 prisoners and teach them Verdi's Requiem by rote in a dank cellar using a single score, over multiple rehearsals and after grueling days of forced labor."

Sidline says she chose this particular documentary because of its message, and because she has a personal connection to the creator of the documentary — her cousin, Murry Sidlin, is the founder and president of The Defiant Requiem Foundation.

"I've been privileged to hear about the story in greater depth, which is absolutely fascinating," she says. "I also think that the relationship that the movie has with art and music makes it that much more engaging."

SUBMITTED PHOTO: PARTISAN PICTURES - A 'Defiant Requiem' crew prepares to film a scene by a gate in The Small Fortress in Terezin in the Czech Republic. The Gestapo prison was in use from 1940 to 1945; the translation of the inscription over the gate is 'Work will make you free.'Sidline hopes the screening and discussion on Jan. 10 will help address the intolerance she has experienced within the LOHS community, including an incident in which an anti-Semitic photograph was posted in the school cafeteria on the day before Yom Kippur, one of the Jewish High Holy Days. She has organized a panel of speakers to help drive the discussion, including LOHS social studies teacher Ursula Wolfe-Rocca.

"She has a great deal of understanding of our community culture and has been supportive of making a change in our school environment," Sidline says. "I thought she would be able to contribute to that aspect of the conversation."

Other panelists include Karen Hoppes, a social studies teacher at Lakeridge High School, who has studied genocides, and Ruth Bolliger, a member of the Speakers' Bureau, who is a child survivor of the Holocaust and is now involved with the Defiant Requiem Choir.

Sidline said she is excited for the event because it will allow her to facilitate a productive conversation about the hate she has seen and experienced at school.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: PARTISAN PICTURES - Terezin Chorus survivor Edgar Krasa is lifted into the air by his son Rafael -- named for Rafael Schachter -- as older brother Daniel looks on in a scene from the documentary 'Defiant Requiem.'"The problem with hate is that when it's directed toward you, you are naturally the victim," she says. "I decided not to be a victim, and I'm doing something about it, which feels empowering and exciting."

Everyone is invited to the screenings and discussion, Sidline says; admission is free.

"I'm confident that everyone who comes will be touched in some way by the experience, especially because of how important the conversation is for our community," Sidline says. "There are a lot of people who want to see change, so I'm hopeful that I'll receive mostly supportive responses."

Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Claire Holley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


What: "Defiant Requiem," a film screening and panel discussion

When: 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10

Where: Lake Oswego High School auditorium, 2501 Country Club Road

Admission: Free

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