Photographer Diane Arbus (1923–1971) early developed the idiosyncratic style — intimate and surprising — for which she has been praised, criticized, and copied the world over. More than 100 photographs from 1956–1962, taken mostly in New York City at Times Square, the Lower East Side, and Coney Island, capture children and eccentrics, couples and circus performers, female impersonators and Fifth Avenue pedestrians. On view in the exhibition “Diane Arbus: In the Beginning” through November 27 at the Met Breuer in New York. metmuseum.org
Children and Grandchildren of Survivors
How have your parents’ and grandparents’ experiences and examples helped shape your identity and your attitudes toward God, faith, Judaism, the Jewish people — and the world as a whole? Han- nah Rosenthal: “I grew up in a home where the Holocaust was at our dinner table every night.”Faina Kukliansky:“We inherited the names of murdered family members, but they were changed so that they would not sound Jewish….We inherited the terrifying fear of war….I inherited the desire to learn, to strive to achieve the unachievable, not to be part of the crowd, to make independent decisions, sometimes in opposition to the great majority, and to fight against despair.” Jochi Ritz-Olewski: “My parents didn’t care for material things. These meant nothing to them after they saw people give away diamonds for a piece of bread. I have inherited this attitude as well. I don’t care about breaking or losing material things, but I cannot throw away a piece of stale bread.”Ghita Schwartz:“An awareness of the isolation of survivors and refugees—and the arbitrariness and cruelty of U.S. immigration laws resonated with me….” These are among the nearly 90 testimonies in God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors, edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft. Jewishlights.com
The Youngest Survivors
“During the Holocaust, [Jewish] babies were born in open fields and forests, prison cells, labor and concentration camps, in cattle cars and — if their mothers had forged identity papers — in hospitals. They were born underground in holes where their mothers hid, and behind the barbed wires of crowded ghettos [and] to parents hidden by non-Jews. They were the result of their mothers having been raped by the Nazis or their collaborators. When caught by their persecutors, most of these babies were murdered, often sadistically. Some were killed in despair by their parents, particularly when it was feared that their crying would endanger the lives of adults.” Thus write Elisheva van der Hal and Danny Brom in an article in “Infant Survivors of the Holocaust: The Last Witnesses” in the 25th anniversary issue of The Hidden Child, a publication of the Hidden Child Foundation. The lot of infants, long ignored or dismissed by older survivors, historians, scholars and psychologists as “too young to have suffered” is beginning to get its due. adl.org/hiddenchild25
Jewish Ephemera in Europe
Preserve and share your story! Printed materials with a short lifespan—invitations, flyers, greeting cards, notices, tickets—represent a unique window onto experiences. The National Library of Israel (NLI) is collecting contemporary ephemera from Jewish communities around Europe. This is a joint project of Bridge to Europe and the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe to create and nurture connections between the National Library of Israel and European scholars, library and museum professionals and educators working in Jewish settings. You can add to their collection. For details on sending your ephemera to the NLI: email@example.com.
Denying the Holocaust
The just-released docudrama “Denial” is based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. The film recounts the Emory University historian’s legal battle for historical truth against David Irving, who accused Lipstadt of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In cases of libel in the English legal system, the burden of proof is on the accused, so it was up to Lipstadt (played by Rachel Weisz) and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. bleeckerstreetmedia.com/denial
Hebraic Section Blogs at the Library of Congress
“Every age has its own image of the ‘woman of valor’, and in the crumbling Jewish world of post-exilic Spain, that image was embodied in the persons of two unique women: Doña Gracia Nasi and Signora Benvenida Abravanel. Born into households ‘alike in dignity’ and alike in influence and wealth, each of these women experienced the traumas of the exile from Spain, lived her life on the stage of international politics and ultimately comes alive for us today in a collection of objects housed at the Library of Congress,” writes Ann Brener, Hebraic area specialist at the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division. Another treasure Brener blogged about is one of the first illustrated picture books in Hebrew, published in 1917 in “Moscow-Odessa” by Shoshana Ziatopolsky Persize, 24 years old when she founded Oma- nut Press. The Hebraic Section is now taking part in the recently-launched “4 Corners of the World” blog focusing on the Library of Congress international collections. This web-initiative brings treasures from the Hebraic Section to the attention of the wider public. blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/category/hebraic-section
Barbara Kruger’s Slogan
Internationally renowned for her work in which she layers found photographs from existing sources with pithy and aggressive texts in trademark black letters against a slash of red background, feminist artist Barbara Kruger questions the viewer about feminism, classism, and individual autonomy and desire. Some of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground.” An installation inspired by Kruger’s Untitled (Know nothing, Believe anything, Forget everything) (1987/2014) comprises images of figures in profile over which Kruger has superimposed figures of speech creating arresting conceptual work. At the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., until January 22, 2017. nga.gov
This nonprofit — led by Jews with disabilities — works towards full equality in a Jewish community in which disability experiences can be fully acknowledged and honored. Founders Jess Belasco and Ruti Regan are steeped both in the traditions of rabbinic Judaism and in the disability community. They research and teach Torah from a disability perspective, bringing disability insights to the Torah, and the Torah to disability experiences.They publish materials and provide training to communities and professionals. Some workshops:“From the depths I cried out to you: Honoring spiritual struggle and hard times for people with disabilities.”“Seeing the divine image when parents see ghosts: supporting children and parents through the acceptance process.” And “Including children who have learned that school hurts.” anachnu.org
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
Documentary filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper’s new film explores the complicated experiences of 18 African-American Olympians (two of them women) who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, as well as the story of other athletes who questioned the Nazi regime — including German Jewish high-jumper Gretel Bergmann, summoned back to compete by Hitler (trying to show that he was not anti- Semitic), and then ultimately dismissed. It shows the silent grace that these athletes faced in their worldwide reality of ram- pant racism & anti-Semitism 80 years ago. 1936olympicsmovie.com
Mameleh! Reclaiming the Jewish Mother
Teach your children that doing good is more important than feeling good. Teach them to be independent. To question authority. Cultivate their spirit. Model for them repairing the world. You don’t have to be Jewish to raise children with these and other Jewish values according to Marjorie Ingall in her anecdotal and richly sourced book, Mameleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathic, Independent Children. penguinrandomhouse.com
Compiled by Naomi Danis.
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