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Sunday, July 5, 2015

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Butterfly Project recalls children killed in Shoah

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Julia Neagu

TORONTO — When Brenda Lass, an arts specialist at Baycrest’s Donald and Elaine Rafelman Creative Arts Studio, read about Holocaust Museum Houston’s Butterfly Project, she wanted to help out.

Inspired by the poem The Butterfly by Pavel Friedman, who perished in Auschwitz in 1944 (see sidebar), the museum is collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies, to commemorate the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust.

The Butterfly
Pavel Friedman

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
Against a white stone…
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it wished to
Kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I loved here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here,
In the ghetto.


 

Lass said that residents, volunteers, students and staff who work in the centre are joining in the effort by creating handmade butterflies using various artistic mediums.

“We have young volunteers and students from all over the world, and some have learned very little about the Holocaust. Participating in [this project] has opened their eyes to a historical event that they need to know more about. It will benefit them and everyone they share the story with.”

It’s hard to believe, she said, that there are young people today who have not heard of the Holocaust.

“Working on the project alongside Holocaust survivors provides unmatched opportunities for discussion. It also serves as a springboard for these individuals to search out more information on the subject, and to share their findings with their own communities.

“Many of our clients and older volunteers are Holocaust survivors, and participating in this project gives them an opportunity in a meaningful social action program.”

Lass said her studio plans to have its own butterfly exhibit when enough butterflies have been created. “Butterflies are painted on paper or on silk, some are ceramic, and others are being stuffed as pillows.

“Everyone has the ability to create something, despite any physical limitations they may have.”

 

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