A home on the brink of extinction

Israel 1966-67

After an absence of ten years from Israel, Bak returned in 1966 to establish a home. However, soon after his return to what he had hoped would be a safe haven, the Six Day War erupted, shaking the foundations of his physical and emotional being. Israel faced existential danger and the surrounding preparations for war dredged up buried memories of survival under the threat of extinction. “My mind resonated with my fear that the Israeli spring of 1967 would be like the tragic month of September 1943 in the ghetto. Then thousands of men, women and children saw clearly that all hope was lost and that they were about to be sent to their death.”

The existential fears arouse a need in Bak to move his family to Europe – he is unable to cope with the possibility that his daughters may be harmed. Tel Aviv, residing safely on the shores of the Mediterranean, emerges as poised on the precipice. Tel-Aviv and Auschwitz unite in his consciousness, daily scenes merging with his memories from Vilna. Past and present coalesce into a single entity, surrealist in essence.

As a wanderer amongst and between countries and continents, in search of a home in many cities and states, home, for Samuel Bak, has become an existential question. The wandering Jew finds no permanent home at any address. The timeless home is in his inner being, alluding to the Jews of Vilna, where he was born.