Seeking new and creative ways to tell the story of what happened during the Holocaust, this year’s Yom HaShoah program is turning to the arts and children.
The theme of the annual program, which is slated for Tuesday, April 25, 7 p.m., in the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, is “I Never Saw Another Butterfly: A Yom HaShoah Commemoration.”
“A fitting way to tell the story is through the arts, as the art created by the victims of the Holocaust –
music, art, poetry – is a powerful tug at the heart,” said Jewish Community Relations Council Director Matt Goldberg in a prepared statement. “This event will tell a heartbreaking story of how the prison walls of the Terezin concentration camp inspired the prisoners to scream out in terror, with the arts as their voice. The victims of the Holocaust demand that we hear, see, and feel what they went through, so we never forget, so we ensure that it never happens again.”
Butterflies became a symbol of defiance for Jews at Terezin, particularly children. Pavel Friedman, a Czech Jew who was deported to Terezin in 1942, wrote a poem, “The Butterfly,” while interred there. Friedman died at Auschwitz on Sept. 29, 1944 at age 23, but his poem inspired a song by the same title. It also inspired the Butterfly Project at the Holocaust Museum Houston.
A book, also titled “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” is a collection of children’s drawings and poems from the notorious camp.
“Children were neither just the mute and traumatized witnesses to this war, nor merely its innocent victims,” wrote Nicholas Stargardt, an Oxford University history professor who has studied World War II through the eyes of children. “The war invaded their imaginations and the war raged inside them.”
More than 12,000 children under the age of 15 passed through Terezin between 1942 and 1944. Most would not survive.
The April 25 program will include a solemn candle lighting, memorial prayers, and a running scroll of names of family members of Louisvillians who were killed in the Holocaust.
Students of the Holocaust from around Louisville will participate in the candle lighting.
Rabbis Beth Jacowitz Chottiner of Temple Shalom and Joe Rooks Rapport of The Temple are scheduled to speak that evening. More details about the program will be reported as they are available.
Visit the community calendar at jewishlouisville.org to register, and contact Goldberg at 502-238-2707 for more details.