‘I don’t care what you do. Just live.’

CNN’s weekend edition featured a moving story about retired Jacobs School of Music faculty member Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson, who, along with her sister, survived the Holocaust by assuming new identities and performing for a musical troupe that entertained German audiences.

Hiding in the SpotlightShe and her sister later came to New York City, and were students at Juilliard before Dawson married David Dawson and joined him in Bloomington. David taught viola, Zhanna piano.

Local audiences might be familiar with Dawson’s story through “Hiding in the Spotlight,” a book written by her son, Greg Dawson, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel. Adapted into a play, it was performed here last year as part of IU’s Themester by The Jewish Theater of Bloomington.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the story for me to read was about how Dawson’s father flashed his gold pocket watch in front of a young guard, saving his daughter’s life.

“As the guard took the bribe and looked away, (Zhanna) fell out of line and ran like the wind,” Moni Basu wrote for CNN. “’I don’t care what you do,’ her father told her. ‘Just live.’”


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