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How the Shoah Foundation Works

A Three-Act Structure

At the Shoah "Evening in the Hamptons" fundraiser, left to right: Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, hosts Paola and Mickey Schulhof, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jill Connick
At the Shoah "Evening in the Hamptons" fundraiser, left to right: Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, hosts Paola and Mickey Schulhof, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jill Connick
Photo courtesy Shoah Foundation

The word Shoah, also spelled "Shoa" and "Sho'ah," is Hebrew for calamity or catastrophe, and it is often used in reference to the Holocaust.

Steven Spielberg has said that the Shoah Foundation has a three-act structure:

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  • Act One can be seen as a race against time to collect the testimony of remaining Holocaust survivors before it is too late.
  • Act Two is the process of indexing and cataloguing the visual history testimonies the Foundation has collected.
  • Act Three is the process of turning the survivors into educators.

Currently, the Shoah Foundation is in the process of completing Act Two and starting Act Three. Much of the cataloguing has been completed, and the educational arm has already produced a variety of videos, projects and programs. Of course, none of this would be possible in the first place if it weren't for the painstaking work of several thousand individuals who gave their mind, body and spirit to record nearly 52,000 visual histories in Act One. Let's take a look at how this incredible feat was accomplished.

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