The summer of 2017 marks the 4th anniversary of Witek Straus grabbing strands of barbed wire off the perimeter wall of the ruins of the Hasag labor camp in Czestochowa, Poland as we were touring Hasag on a “roots trip” to Poland. Thousands of Jews and non-Jewish Poles were slaves in this camp during WWII. These included many members of Ruth’s extended family of whom only two survived – her mother Sala and aunt Mania.
Since then, the wire has been incorporated into a Ner Tamid by internationally acclaimed artist, Claude Riedel. The Ner Tamid can be visited at http://www.clauderiedelart.com.
It has been a interesting and sometimes frustrating but never dull journey to find it a home. We have chased down leads in New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, Poland and Israel.
Original plans called for it to be placed in a Holocaust Museum. However we eventually learned that without the proper documentation for the barbed wire no Holocaust Museum would take it. At one point we were even accused of thievery from a memorial site, a veiled accusation that saddened us. As we step back and reconsider the placement we realize that the Ner Tamid falls between the cracks of a ritual object on the one hand and a work of art on the other. We are giving up on Holocaust Museums and turning our attention to places of worship and education. Our only stipulation is that the Ner Tamid be used in ongoing Holocaust education.
The new “marketing plan” calls for research into ongoing renovation in synagogues and educational institutions. For instance, the JTS in New York in undergoing a $100M renovation including a new auditorium and library. A perfect fit. Maybe. If anyone reading this blog knows of any other renovations being planned please let us know. We are confident that this beautiful Ner Tamid will grace a wonderful institution somewhere. If it lands in Hawaii it will fulfill a wish of Ruth’s mother who when offered a trip to Poland said, “I’d rather go to Hawaii.” So it goes.