29 March 2007
“Spots of Light: To Be a Woman in the Holocaust,” a new exhibit dedicated to women’s experience during the Holocaust will open at Yad Vashem’s Exhibitions Pavilion, Friday, April 6, 2007.
The exhibit gives special voice to the unique experiences of the millions of women who were targeted, pursued, abused and murdered during the Holocaust. Through personal accounts, photos, artwork, artifacts and video displays, it uncovers the human, feminine story behind the historical narrative, bringing us into the world of Jewish women as they experienced the terrible events of the Holocaust. From a uniquely feminine perspective, the exhibit explores such issues as love, motherhood, faith, food, creativity, friendship and more, in a time when civilization was undermined and humanity brought to the abyss. “Rather than describe what the Nazis and their accomplices did to Jewish women, we wished to portray the broad and diverse range of actions and responses of these women to their devastatingly extreme circumstances,” explained Yehudit Inbar, curator of the exhibit, and Director of the Museums Division at Yad Vashem. “Some of these responses were unique; others turn out to have been typical of many. The women were torn between their familial responsibilities - to their husbands and children on the one hand, and to their elderly parents on the other. Ostensibly, there is no connection between womanhood and the Holocaust, but femininity is a basic aspect of women’s identity. An assault on a woman’s femininity is an assault on the woman herself. For example, when the Nazis shaved a woman’s hair - head and body - they also destroyed her sense of self. The women had to gather all the strength hidden deep within them in order to maintain their identities, to feel like a person.”
Prof. Judy Baumel - Schwartz of Bar Ilan University served as historical advisor to the exhibit. Designed by Chanan de Lange, the exhibit is projected on to the walls of the Exhibitions Pavilion. The decision to have a primarily two-dimensional display was a result of a dearth of material - most of the material is texts, and there are very little artifacts - while at the same time using familiar and current media. The exhibit also contains a new video art work - “To Be a Human Being” - created specifically for the exhibit by renowned artist Michal Rovner. The work is based on a group interview conducted with 10 Holocaust survivors during one day of filming at Yad Vashem. This is Rovner’s second work displayed at Yad Vashem: “Living Landscape,” portraying pre-war Jewish life in Europe, is the first display in the Holocaust History Museum.
“Spots of Light: To Be a Woman in the Holocaust” opens at Yad Vashem’s Exhibitions Pavilion on 6 April 2007. The exhibition is generously supported by: Eduardo and Linda Achar (Mexico), the Steindling Family, In Memory of Catharina Van Den Berg-Bruecker (Netherlands), the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism, Circle of Friends of Yad Vashem in Switzerland, Helen Segal (Sweden-Israel), the Braginsky Foundation (Switzerland), Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim Foundation (Germany), Leumi (Israel), Rolf Becker (Germany), the State of Saxony (Germany), Miriam Gertler (Germany), Israel Weiβbort (Germany), Circle of Friends of Yad Vashem in Liechtenstein, Naomi Warren, Joy and Benjamin Warren (USA), Friends of Yad Vashem in Austria, and Circle of Friends of Yad Vashem in Germany.