The Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara has a new monthly “Open to the Community” Portraits of Survival docent-led tour.

The next tour will be from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, 524 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara. RSVPs are requested but not required.

This is a rare — and diminishing — opportunity to hear about the Holocaust through the eyes of those who lived through it. As one young visitor said, “It gave me a new perspective, a new dimension to my world and I will remember it forever.”

The visit begins with an introduction of the exhibit and the Holocaust, followed by a short film and tour of the exhibit. It concludes with firsthand accounts from local Holocaust survivors, who tell their fascinating stories and how they survived.

“Portraits of Survival: Life Journeys During the Holocaust and Beyond” is an interactive display of portraits, narratives and archival material depicting the journey of Santa Barbara survivors and refugees before, during and after the Holocaust. The exhibit was established in 2003, and since then has developed into multifaceted educational programs for groups of all ages and backgrounds, including educational, religious, civic and social action groups and all pockets of the community.

“This was a powerful and moving learning experience for my class,” one educator said. “We left the Jewish Federation with full hearts and, I believe, more open minds.”

In the past few years, thousands of visitors have seen the exhibit and heard from the survivors. Most have had a very profound reaction to this experience. Few young people have ever met a Holocaust survivor, and for many, the tour and lecture is their introduction to the Holocaust.

“This program was so thoughtful and personal,” one parent said. “My kids learned more in two hours than four weeks of text research.”

Many leave the exhibit in tears, yet filled with enthusiasm and hope that they can make a difference in their community, inspired by the survivors’ stories.

“I learned a lot about the dangers of discriminating against people only because of their race or religion, and that you should think of everyone as equals,” a student said. Another added, “It taught me to not judge a person for any reason, and that by stopping one comment there could be a change in the world.”

For more information or to RSVP, contact program coordinator Corin Koren at 805.957.1115 x123 or corin@sbjf.org.

— Nancy Friedland is the communications coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.