Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
January 11, 2019     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 7     (7 of 40 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 7     (7 of 40 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
January 11, 2019

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2020. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 11, 2019 PAGE 7A By Marilyn Shapiro Butterflies. Beautiful but- terflies. Blue. Yellow. Even black and white. I am so enthralled by them. But butterflies have a greater meaning to me than just their beauty. In 1993, I read a book called "I Never Saw Another But- terfly," a collection of short pieces, poems, and drawings completed by the children in one of Nazi Germany's infa- mous concentration camps. The eponymous poem was written by Pavel Friedmann, a 21-year-old man who was transported to the Theresien- stadt concentration camp on April 26, 1942. Poem of the Holocaust Seven weeks later, he in- scribed a poem on a thin sheet of paper, describing his looking out beyond the barbed wire fence, beyond the camp, beyond "my people." He sees a butterfly, what he calls "The last, the very last,/So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow vOnly I never saw another butterfly./That butterfly was the last one./Butterflies don't live in here/in the ghetto." On Sept. 29,1944, Friedma- nn was deported to Auschwitz, where he perished. His poem was discovered after liberation and later donated to the Jewish Museum in Prague. I was drawn by the power of the poem, the image it created in my mind: An emaciated young man in ragged black and white striped pajamas looks out of the barbed wire fence. Everything in the pic- ture is in black and white-- except for that one beautiful yellow butterfly. Since then, Friedmann's butterfly has symbolized to me the spirit of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Each time I see a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower and some- times even landing on me, I am reminded of all those lost lives. Personal meaning And I believe they are with me. In July 2017, my husband Larry and I were taking a hike on one of Colorado's moun- tainous trails. At one point, we were going up a narrow, steep path--too steep for my wimpy tastes. Under my breath, and then alittle louder so that Larry could hear me, I whispered, "I'm scared! I'm scared." At that moment, a butterfly flew in front of me. Was it the six million leading me up the path to safety? The image of butterflies was also seared into the mind of Dr. Elizabeth Kfibler-Ross. The world-renown psycholo- gist known for her research on death and dying visited the Maidenek concentration camp in 1946. The now empty children's barracks were filled with abandoned toys and shoes. On the walls, Kubler- Ross saw hundreds of butter- flies that had been scratched and etched with fingernails and pebbles. Twenty-five years of working with the dying, Kubler-Ross made the con- nection. "The children knew they were going to die and were leaving their message of hope," Kfibler-Ross later recalled. "Their bodies might not make it, but the butterflies represented their immortal souls. They would live on in a different form." Hope and resistance The symbol of the butterfly also took on a special personal meaning for Gall Danziger Klein, a member of Colorado's Synagogue of the Summit. Her mother, Renee Rosen- berg Danziger, had survived the Holocaust, but Renee's little sister had perished. The only surviving memory was a picture of eight-year-old Lilli, dressed in a butterfly costume. Inspired by the black andwhite photograph, author Ann M along with Renee's daughter Gail, co-authored "Music of the Butterfly: A Story of Hope." The children's book recounts how"Little Re- nee" used her imagination and her love of music to survive, first in the ghetto and later in Auschwitz concentration camp. Patricia Hardwick's beautiful illustrations use the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly as the metaphor for keeping hope alive despite incredible obstacles and atrocities. Barnes and Noble praised the book for teaching the importance of "standing up for what is right and the knowledge that tomorrow can bring a better day." Fred Zeidman former chairman of the Board, U.S. Holocaust Museum, Washing- ton, DC, said that the book was "an important addition to Holocaust literature for the young, and should be a go-to resource for parents and teachers seeking to make this difficult subject understand- able to children." As a Jew brought up in the aftermath of World War II, I have known anti-Semitism. I have experienced it first-hand through slights and rejections and insults. Furthermore, I have gained a greater under- standing through reading and watching both fictional and non-fictional accounts that describe in detail the history of my people and its numerous encounters with those who wish to destroy us. Personal fears of being physi- cally harmed, however, were never in the forefront of my mind. Yes, when we sat in our synagogues whetheritbein Upstate New York or in Central Florida, I have often sensed concern that maybe, just maybe, our service would be interrupted by an individual with a gun. But I would assure myself, "This is America. We are safe." Or were we? In August 2017, at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Neo-Nazis marched in the streets, chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, includ- ing "Jews will not replace us." In February 2018, the Anti-Defamation League documented in its annual report a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic episodes, includ- ing harassment, vandalism, and assault, in the United States in 2017. The increase was the largest in a single year since the ADL began tracking in 1979. "The diminishment of civility in society creates an environment in which intoler- ance really can flourish," said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL's chief executive. Social media platforms, he added, have "allowed the kind of poison of prejudice to grow at a velocity and to expand in ways that really are unprec- edented." And then came Pittsburgh. While Jews were participat- ing in a Shabbat morning service, a gunman shouting "All Jews must die!" killed 11 innocentvictims. Synagogues around the country imme- diately upped their security measures. Suddenly for me, "This is America. We are safe" was no longer true. Since 1945, "The Six Mil- lion" has always been the number that represents all who died in the Holocaust. In my mind, the number is now Six Million and Eleven. Look at my neck. Sitting on a chain is a blue enamel butterfly. Look at my ears. Often my usual small gold hoops are replaced with but- terflyearrings--silver or blue or purple or mosaic. Walk out to our lanai, and you will see two butterflies on the wall over our flowers. A butterfly garden, planted just beyond the lanai screen, draws the beautiful creatures to my yard. Butterflies surround me, as does the memory of the Shoah and now of Tree of Life. They remind me to heed the warnings from those who fight hate, prejudice, racism, xenophobia, denial, and most importantly--indifference. Never again. First published in (Capital Region, New York) The Jew- ish World Marilyn Cohen Shapiro, a resident of Kissimmee, FL, is a regular contributor to the (Capital Region NY) Jew- ish World and the Heritage Florida Jewish News. She is the author of two compilation ofher stories, "There Goes My Heart" (2016) and "Tikkun Olam. "Marilyn Shapiro's blog is