Gefen Gallery

Holocaust Memorial

Bait-Yehuda Synagogue, Monsey, New York

This work depicts the sefer Torah which symbolizes the root identity of the Jewish people throughout the ages. However we define ourselves – as religious, secular, Zionist or whatever – we have always been known, by ourselves and by others, as the people of the book. We were (unlike many of our neighbors) always literate, and this book, the Torah, defined who we were and what our culture was. Yet we are also known as a persecuted people, though this, too, unified us. The sefer Torah in the art work depicts both sides of this equation, the glory and the nightmare. Our experience fluctuates between these two valences, now one, now the other. The Hebrew letters, shown here forming the Torah, exists as it were almost independently of ourselves. In more recent times we have passed through the holocaust in which an attempt was made to wipe out not only our physical existence but also our culture. Now our fortune has changed in the image of Israel, created out of those same letters. Like the mythical bird, the phoenix, that is burnt but arises again out of its own ashes, the Jewish people is thus reborn in the shape of a vibrant Jewish state. The nails, which stand for the tenacity of the Jewish people, recur throughout the work as an expression of the continuity of the Jewish spirit, whatever the circumstances. Am Yisrael Chai.