WOMEN IN JUDAISM: AN AMERICAN GIRLHOOD

1941-1945

I was brought up in the era of WWII and my childhood was embellished with ration books, paper drives and “fat” cans. Air raid sirens would scream unexpectedly (usually at night) and my Daddy wearing a metal hat and carrying a strange flashlight would disappear for hours (it seemed) to attend to his duties as an air raid warden. In 1945 at the Oxford Movie Theater on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx I saw the first films of the liberation of the concentration camps. Those images have never left my mind. That particular day marked my life because I suddenly realized as I was a little girl in America, there were other little girls in Europe who witnessed unspeakable horrors. I recognized how different my childhood would have been had my parents not immigrated to America. And yet I felt strongly connected with those European children through our being children who were completely bewildered by world events. An American Girlhood is a series of works containing text edited from the memoirs of children (specifically little girls) who survived Joseph Mengele, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, of being hidden and the Hitler Youth movement has been my response to the anguish I felt that long ago Saturday afternoon in a movie theater on Jerome Avenue. In addition, you’ll find work created to honor some women who were extremely courageous, generous, kind and caring. They were people who sacrificed or endangered their lives to slow down the intent of the “master race.” I needed to include them in this homage to acknowledge their humaneness in those most dire circumstances.


Eyewitnesses

16” x 51.5” x 1”

The memories of 18 little girls who are survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto.


Twin Tales

34” x 42” x 12”

Excerpts from the diaries of survivors of Joseph Mengele’s medical experiments on twin children at Aushwitz-Birkeneau (a concentration camp) during WWII.


Ten Years Old

40” x 11” x 1”

The memoirs of women who actively participated in the Hitler youth movement as ten year old girls in Germany.


Kitchen Kaddish

53” x 35” x 16”

A commentary about the courage of some of the women at Thierenstadt concentration camp during WWIII as they struggled to mark their existence by preserving their recipes.


Hemlines

35” x 83” x 7”

The story of four women incarcerated at Aushwitz-Birkeneau working in the munitions plant. They stole enough explosives over a period of time to blow up one of the crematoriums and were hanged for their crime a short time before VE day.


I SHALL NEVER FORGET

42” x 19” x 1”

A replica of the garment worn by prisoners of Ravensbruck (one of the few camps located in Germany). Women and children were imprisoned at this camp. The names of those persons are the “stripes” on the garment. And, the various symbols (colored triangles) for which they were imprisoned appear on the pocket.