Never forget. While this motto has become somewhat commonplace in our culture, Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, which falls this year on Monday, April 28, is the designated day that we collectively remember over 6 million people who did not survive Nazi persecution. From art to music to film, “Never Forget” is an important theme in an array of Jewish art. It’s these artistic expressions that help each of us understand what happened on our own terms, and through discussions we can give the day the gravitas needed to truly remember. As the resilient people we are, what better way to honor the lives of those whom we lost than through the art and culture that surrounded them and that came out of the Holocaust?
Here are some Holocaust-themed works that I hope will help make the concept of “Never Forget” relevant to you:
Book to read:
Before the Nazis came to power, Jewish artists were in a renaissance in Europe. Artists and thinkers like Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall and Hannah Arendt came out of this time. Yet many people don’t know that despite the artists’ lasting contributions and fame, they themselves had to be rescued from Nazi France. In “The Rescuer,” Dara Horn shares their stories and brings a human sensibility to these incredible talents. It’s an easy read, and you’ll definitely learn something.
Film to watch:
There are so many films that touch on the Holocaust, but “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008) gives an especially personal and emotionally provocative view of the reality of concentration camps. The story is told through the eyes of two young boys who are forbidden to be friends but create a relationship over the fence of the camp.
Art to look at:
Despite horrible conditions, there was much rich cultural and artistic life within the walls of the camps. Most famous are the drawings and poems by children in Theresienstadt Ghetto, known widely by Pavel Friedman’s poem “The Butterfly.”
Event to attend:
The fifth annual Boston 3G Frozen Memorial will take place on Sunday, May 4, at Faneuil Hall. Boston 3G is an organization that preserves the memory of the Holocaust from the perspective of the third generation, and this memorial is a unique way to actively participate in Yom HaShoah.
Event to watch:
Every year, the March of the Living holds a performance at the gates of Auschwitz. On Monday, beginning at 9 a.m., you can live stream the performance by Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach, daughter of the late, great “singing rabbi,” Shlomo Carlebach. Neshama takes the weight of this performance seriously, and despite the sadness of the day, she told me she is proud to help the 20,000-plus onlookers feel the weight and importance of the day.
*Photo of last year’s Boston 3G Frozen Memorial at Faneuil Hall
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