[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
I never saw another butterfly…
The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzling yellow.
– Pavel Friedmann, Terezin
Those words are the start of a stirring poem by Pavel Friedmann, a child inmate of the Terezin Concentration Camp during the Holocaust. Several stanzas later, he concluded, “Butterflies don’t live here in the ghetto.”
While butterflies might not have dared to enter the ghetto, children were forced to. Still their spirits, captured in lines of poetry, prose and drawings, survived, crossing the barbed wire barriers and carrying their stories down through the years, where today they connect with young people in our own community.
This year, the Jewish Community of Louisville’s communitywide Yom HaShoah Commemoration (Holocaust Day) will showcase the creative work Terezin’s young prisoners and today’s young people whom they touched. The program will be on Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at The Temple.
Celeste Rasplantl has taken the book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, and created a play to make the material more accessible. Audrey Nussbaum, who will perform the piece, wrote, “I am 14 years old and am a member of the speech team at Kentucky Country Day School. I chose the piece, ‘I Never Saw Another Butterfly’ by Celeste Rasplantl as my performance piece. This piece is about a girl named Raja who is around my age, but there is a major difference between us. She lived through the Holocaust.
“One reason I chose this piece,” Nussbaum continued, “is because it has a lot of depth to it. Raja has been through so much at such a young age. My goal is to touch the audience and help them learn about the Holocaust. I want the audience to walk away feeling more connected to the people who lived or died in a concentration camp.”
Young people from Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad (formerly the Louisville Hebrew School) and The Temple Hebrew School, Kentucky Country Day School, Atherton High School and St. Francis of Assisi are participating in the program, and the Louisville Youth Choir will perform.
“We’re at a pivotal moment, making sure we pass on the stories and memories to the next generation,” said program co-chair Cindy Schwartz. “That’s why this year’s program is being built around youth participating and presenting.”
The program will also include the traditional candlelighting and recalling the names of those who perished during the Holocaust whose families now make their homes in Louisville.
Cindy Schwartz and Fred Whittaker are co-chairs of the 2012 Yom HaShoah Commemoration.
Schwartz and her husband, Matt, came to Lousiville 18 years ago. They have two children, Bradley, 11, and Carly, 14. She is an attorney who retired from practice when her first child was born. She has taught Hebrew and volunteers at her children’s school.
Whittaker is a middle school science teacher at St. Francis of Assisi. He incorporates the lessons of the Holocaust into his instruction and practices tikkun olam with his students. He and his students led the push to mandate Holocaust education in Kentucky. The Ernie Marx Resolution, which supports Holocaust education in the Commonwealth, became law in 2008.
Earlier in the week, the community is invited to a showing of the movie, Berlin 36. Shown earlier this year as part of the JCL’s Jewish Film Festival, Berlin 36 recounts the true story of Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann and the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The film, which sold out during the Film Festival, will be shown on Sunday, April 15 at 4 p.m. at the Village 8. Tickets are $8.50 in advance or $10 at the door. Call the Jewish Community Center, 459-0660, to order your tickets.