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in remembrance there is life

02/09/2023 09:36:47 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I had the opportunity this week to view the new exhibit curated by the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh entitled “Revolving Doors”, with the director of the Center, Lauren Bairnsfather. It is housed in the library on the campus of Chatham University, which happens to be across the street from Tree of Life.  I really had no idea what to expect, and was surprised by its depth and power.

Even an institution the size of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is challenged to offer a meaningful experience despite its size. The modest exhibit here in Pittsburgh begins with the roots of antisemitism, continuing through the Holocaust as the unparalleled example of  antisemitism, and then concludes with 10.27, the symbol of American antisemitism.  There were several works of art that I had never seen before that were so very compelling. But what struck me was the last piece, for which I was totally unprepared.

It is a large photograph of me holding a prayer strip that reads “In remembrance there is life”. I am familiar with the photograph, as it first appeared in the former home of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh as part of an exhibition entitled “Optic Voices” by Emmai Alaquiva. I had only recently seen his latest presentation at the August Wilson Center, and this same photograph was displayed in the space reserved for “Allies”. It was incredibly moving for me to see this photograph displayed not once, but twice, in two separate exhibits. Perhaps a bit of background about the words on the piece of fabric.

While I do not recall the date, I received in the mail a package from the Rabbi of a synagogue in Parkland, Florida, containing prayer bracelets with a note of support.  How moving it was that a congregation in Parkland, still reeling from the massacre in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that prior February, would reach out to us to console us. I was wearing the bracelet at the time of the photo session with Emmai, and when he asked about it, I unfurled the above mentioned sentence. His mouth literally dropped and he just started taking photographs. 

I’m humbled and speechless that this photo is deemed worthy of not one, but two distinct exhibitions. It has never been, nor will it ever be about me. I’m just a very small part of this continuum that is the story of 10.27.  However, I do encourage you to visit this powerful and important exhibit housed within the Jenny King Mellon Library of Chatham University. Here is a link to reserve a visit: 

Thu, March 30 2023 8 Nisan 5783