“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and
humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”--Eli Wiesel
When I started my Holocaust series of paintings and sculptures I found the above quote while doing research on the Shoah. These words haunted me then, and still do. My art was my visual Kaddish for the forgotten martyrs of the Jewish people but also my way of taking action to remind the world of what happened to my people and to awaken the world to what was happening about them today.
In 2011 When the U. S. State Department’s Art in Embassies Program asked if I would loan my sculpture “The Face of Silence and Apathy” to our embassy in Kinshasa-the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to keep alive the dialogue of the Genocides in Africa I had no idea that it would lead to a new journey for my Holocaust art. On my website next to “The Face of Silence and Apathy” I wrote “The reflection of all the “mounds” should, and is, embedded on the face of every group that stood-by knowing what was happening under the Nazi regime in Europe. I find it difficult to fathom a world that can stand by and let it happen. I find it more difficult to understand that it is happening again in place like Darfur and once again the world community does nothing.” I have always felt that we cannot complain about people being silent during the Holocaust if we do not speak out against what is occurring in Darfur, Rwanda and the other Genocides that have occurred, and are occuring, in our lifetime.
A dear friend of mine, Steve Kaplan, a fellow congregant from our synagogue in Port Washington, NY--The Community Synagogue, had seen my art in many of its different exhibit venues and thought that I would be the ideal candidate to create a banner to help fight the Genocides that are happening in our times. Steve is on the Social Action Committee of the synagogue but his commitment goes much deeper than that. He has been the voice in my head and the nudge that makes the phone calls that has helped make our creation of the banner program a reality.
The difficulty in creating the banner was to find that delicate balance between visually showing the Holocaust and the genocides and not comparing the two but showing how prejudice, intolerance and indifference had let to both. The verbiage changed numerous times and with input from Steve, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County we finalized the wording that I chose to use. Visually, the images I used were also changed a myriad of times. The banner is made to be seen by adults, teenagers and children of all ages and I needed to find a balance that would appeal to all and yet would leave the impression I wanted them to leave with.
NEVER AGAIN!—Never to Anyone, Anywhere!
The banners are being placed in public venues across the metropolitan area, and there will soon be one at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. The program is sponsored and paid for by the Brotherhood of The Community Synagogue's Holocaust Memorial Education and Endowment Fund. For information about the banner program please contact Aaron (see the News/contact section of this website)
Steve Kaplan and Aaron Morgan at Schreiber H.S. in Port Wshington
A banner at The Community Synagogue
Right: A banner was placed at the Queensborough Community College Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center. Pictured with Aaron Morgan and Steve Kaplan are the Center's director Arthur Flug and the assistant director Marisa Berman
Below: A Banner has also being used at The Tolerance and Holocaust Center of Nassau County