During the week of Holocaust Remembrance Day an exhibition on the journey of Holocaust survivors to the Atlit Detention Camp in British Mandatory Palestine created by our students in the Practical Training in Curating Course opened for the public in front of the University library. The exhibit is entitled “A Long Way Home: Jewish Refugees After WWII.” The exhibition contains posters created by the students on the journey, arrival, camp life, return to life, and release of Atlit inmates. The exhibition also contained a series of posters that were a personal spotlight on the story of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Lau who was born in Poland was liberated from Buchenwald at the age of 8 and upon immigrating to Palestine in 1945 was briefly interned in Atlit with his brother.
The exhibition was opened by Professor Kochavi, the director of our program, who gave a description of the program and the curating course. Tami Rich, the instructor of the course, gave a further explanation of the goals of the course and the concept of the exhibit. Three students in the program who took the course and helped design the exhibit spoke; Jason Hochman, Anat Weiner, and Nicole Munoz. Jason Hochman introduced the overall concept of the exhibit and the segments. Anat Weiner spoke about the curating process and its challenges, including selecting a target audience, and balancing the amount of text and images. Nicole Munoz concluded by addressing the practical skills gained through the course and the overall goal of educating a wider audience. Following these speeches the audience was able to view the exhibition.
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor who was liberated from Buchenwald Concentration Camp at the age of 8 and arrived at Alit Detention Center, gave a special guest speech to the audience following the opening of the exhibition. He called his speech a bridge from there to here, a journey from the concentration camps to Atlit, and from the Holocaust to Israel. Lau discussed his liberation from Buchenwald, his convalescence in France, and his arrival in Palestine in 1945. Lau’s brother Naphtali managed to remain with him throughout the ordeal motivated by his parents’ last injunction to look after his younger brother. Lau recounted what he thought was his last meeting with Naphtali on the eve of his deportation from Buchenwald. His older brother told him to go to the land of Israel if by some miracle the horrors they were facing came to an end. Naphtali was put on a train, but by sheer force of will and desire to fulfill his parents’ wish to stay with his brother he managed to open the train car and return to Buchenwald a day before it was liberated by the US Army. After the liberation Lau recounted how they were sent to a convalescent home for Holocaust orphans in France. 85% of the children in that home immigrated to Palestine. Lau concluded with a moving story of how 50 years after WWII when he was serving as the Chief Rabbi and visiting the wounded during the Second Intifada he ran in to a child survivor from the home in France in Hadassah hospital. This fellow survivor was the chief accountant of the hospital. Lau saw this story as evidence of the Jewish people’s transition from Holocaust to resurrection.
The opening of the exhibition and the speech by Rabbi Lau was a meaningful way to begin commemoration for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our students in the Practical Training in Curating Course were privileged to see their exhibition on display for the public and thus to be involved in an authentic project to educate a wider audience.
We are proud to share our students accomplishments with you today, and look forward to sharing video of Rabbi Lau’s lecture with you in the near future.
Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program? You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/