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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

October 7, 2016  RSS feed
Culture

Text: T T T

Haunting photos of repurposed Jewish gravestones go on exhibit at museum


A patchwork of shattered matzevot, to the right of the cowshed’s doors, were used in the building’s structure. At right, a close up of the re-appropriated gravestones. 
Photos by Lukasz Baksik A patchwork of shattered matzevot, to the right of the cowshed’s doors, were used in the building’s structure. At right, a close up of the re-appropriated gravestones. Photos by Lukasz Baksik The Florida Holocaust Museum will host the North American premiere of Matzevot for Everyday Use by Polish photographer Lukasz Baksik.

The exhibition will feature photographs taken in Poland by Baksik to document the ways in which Jewish gravestones have been stolen and re-appropriated. The matzevot –Hebrew for tombstones – are now parts of fences, pavements, and grindstones, a cowshed and even “recycled” as tablets for new Catholic gravestones.

More than 400 Jewish cemeteries were wiped out during the Nazi occupation with matzevot used to pave the courtyards of their new buildings, to lay roads or erect walls. Poles continued this infamous practice after the war. Matzevot were used, for instance as building material for furnaces, flooring and road curbs. Even today, the matzevot continue to be used in cases where ordinary stone could be used.

All the photos were taken between 2008 and 2011.

Baksik’s focus was to illuminate the lengths that “people have gone to wipe out traces of Jewish culture.”

As a documentary photographer, he wanted to start a dialogue about how people can live in the midst of relics of anti-Semitism, ignoring their shared history with a community that is no longer there.

Prior to coming to the museum here, the photo exhibition has been shown in Warsaw, Krakow and in Minsk in Belarus.

The exhibit will open to the public on Saturday, Oct. 15 and run through Jan. 29.

The opening reception will take place on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., and is free to members of the museum. Cost for non-members is $9. Attendees to the reception will have the opportunity to meet with the photographer. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. RSVPs for the reception are required.


Re-appropriated Jewish gravestones can be seen as part of the cobbled surface of a square in the town of Inowroclaw, in northern Poland. Re-appropriated Jewish gravestones can be seen as part of the cobbled surface of a square in the town of Inowroclaw, in northern Poland. Tribute to those who helped save Jews

The museum will also open an exhibition on Sunday, Oct. 16, honoring individuals who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust

The exhibition, I Am My Brother’s Keeper: A Tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations, tells the stories of men and women who refused to be bystanders and highlights the task of commemorating their acts at Israel’s Yad Vashem.

“Though rare, there were some people who defied the Nazis by helping Jewish people survive the Holocaust. This exhibition highlights some of those ordinary people who did something extraordinary,” said Erin Blankenship, The Florida Holocaust Museum’s Curator of Exhibitions and Collections.


Varian Fry in Marseilles. France, 1940–1941. – US Holocaust Memorial Museum 
(courtesy of Annette Fry) Varian Fry in Marseilles. France, 1940–1941. – US Holocaust Memorial Museum (courtesy of Annette Fry) One individual featured in the exhibition is Varian Fry. Fry was a Harvard educated editor from New York City when he became involved with the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC), an organization that promoted the emigration of refugee intellectuals from Nazi occupied Europe. In 1940, he traveled to Europe with the mission of assisting in the emigration of a small number of intellectuals; however, he found an even greater number of artists, writers, and others who were desperately trying to escape. Fry sought out assistance from other American diplomats and French citizens. Together, they aided in securing false papers and escapes from French internment camps.

More than 4,000 refugees received assistance from Fry and his group including Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Hanna Arendt, and Jacques Lipchitz.

In 1941 Fry was expelled from France because of his activities. Upon returning to the United States, he learned that the State Department as well as the ERC disapproved of his rescue activities. All major recognitions for his rescue efforts were posthumous.

The exhibition runs through mid-January.

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The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 5th St. S in downtown St. Petersburg. For more information on admission and hours, call (727) 820-0100, or go to www.FLHolocaustMuseum.org.


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