Obj. ID: 44794
Modern Jewish Art Holocaust memorial on the campus of B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, FL, USA, 1992
Who is Commemorated?
Six million Jews killed in the Holocaust
A small rectangular-plan memorial room is situated off to the right of the main synagogue lobby. It is passed en route to the main sanctuary. At one end of the room doors on the both side walls near the end wall. In front of this wall – so encountered immediately upon entering – is a vitrine that contains a damaged Torah Scroll. A bronze plaque informs that the scroll is on loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in London and gives some history of how it arrived at B’nai Torah Congregation.
Across the room a sculptural memorial to the Holocaust that fills the entire wall. The wall is entirely covered with square black tiles. Mounted in front of this is a relief sculpture of a stone wall with eight rows of carved stone blocks, with the rows of different heights. An arched niche to hold memorial candles is set high and to the right in the wall. Attached to the wall on both ends are wooden panels bult of rough planks. These suggest wooden gates that have been opened. Between the wood panels, and in high relief against the wall, are four bronze abstracted figures which describe a family unit. The figures are designed as two pairs. The pair on the left has a taller figure with an arm around a small one. The pair on the right are back-to-back, facing opposite directions, and one is taller than the other.
The artist is quoted in an article at the time of completion of the memorial that the scene depicts liberation from a ghetto. A rectangular bronze plaque with the names of the memorial, artists and donors, is set flush in the floor in front of the work.
The longer side walls of the room are covered with small yahrzeit plaques – commiserating congregation members but not specifically tied to Holocaust remembrance. On the walls above the plaques are written memorial passages in Hebrew and English appropriate for Holocaust remembrance and for all those who have died. Benches are in front of these walls.
IN MEMORY OF THE SIX MILLION
ARTIST: FAYE GRAJOWER, 1992
DONATED BY HELEN & MRK COHAN AND FAMILY
MARILYN & JOSEPH ZINNS AND FAMILY
TO B’NAI TORAH CONGREGATION
Bible verses are inscribed over the walls of yahrzeit plaques in Hebrew and English. On one wall inscribed Psalm 23:6, on another wall there is a Hebrew formula based on the verse from Samuel I, 25:29; it used on Jewish gravestones and appears in the memorial prayers like Yizkor or El Male Rahamim.
Psalm 23:6 in Hebrew:
ושבתי בבית יהוה לארך ימים
Psalm 23:6 in English:
AND I SHALL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER
וצרר נצרור החיים את נשמותיהם
MAY THEIR SOULS BE BOUND UP IN THE BONDS OF ETERNAL LIFE
Plaque with “Holocaust Torah”
A testament to the hundreds of communities
Millions of Jewish lives extinguished during the holocaust
Scroll no. 425 was written in 1854 Malazinka synagogue in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was
Badly damaged and burnt by the Nazis. One of the 1,564 sacred scrolls rescued from the Holocaust,
This Torah was among those gathered from the devastated synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia by
the Nazi official in charge of the Czech “Protectorate”. Many more synagogue books, pictures,
embroidered vestments, and ceremonial objects of silver and gold were similarly collected by
the Nazis. These articles are now in the State Jewish Museum in Prague where they are maintained
and bear witness to what the checks call “the glorious history of Czechoslovakian Jewry”. They
are an enduring appeal to the conscience of humanity.
After difficult negotiations in 1963, the 1564 “Sifre Torah” were obtained from the Czech government
by the Jewish community in London, England and were placed in the care of Westminster Synagogue.
Since then the Memorial Scrolls Trust, funded by private donations, has classified, repaired where
possible, and distributed the scrolls to locations around the world. In 1965 the Lewison family
obtained a torah from the same collection, to help start the first conservative synagogue in
Donated in memory of their parents:
Chaim Yaacov and Pessele Dykstajn
Monroe and Lillian Lewison
By their children
Robert and Suzanne Lewison
Helen & Mark Cohan and family,
Marilyn & Joseph Zinns and family
Width of sculpture 8’ 6” or 102” (2.59 m)
The memorial was donated ot the congregation by the Helen & Mark Cohan family and the Marilyn & Joseph Zinns family. Boston-based artist Faye Grajower was commissioned for the project.
B'nai Torah sculpture began as a Holocaust-theme painting which Gajower said she completed
“after listening to East Germany's former ambassador to the United States speak in October 1990 while his country was reunifying. During a question-and-answer period, "Someone asked, 'All these people are coming out of Russia and want to go to Germany. What will you do?' The ambassador said, 'Germany is not an immigration country, but we will find a solution." When she heard the word, Grajower recalled the Nazi term for Jewish genocide: The Final Solution. "My hair stood up on end," she said. "I was so angry, I was steaming. Grajower said her anger helped her complete her painting. The sculpture at B'nai Torah is based on that painting.” [quoted from Ken Swart, Ken, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 6, 1992].
Swart, Ken, “Sculpture of strength synagogue to dedicate memorial,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 6, 1992., https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1992-11-06-9202270963-story.html (accessed December 7, 2022)
"Where the Past Meets the Future: The art of Fay Grajower," Florida Holocaust Museum, https://www.thefhm.org/exhibits/where-the-past-meets-the-future-the-art-of-fay-grajower/ (accessed September 13, 2022)