The 2012 projected concluded on April 19, at an event to observe Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Ballet Austin Choreographer Stephen Mills gave a moving keynote address, inspired by his work creating Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project, a dance performance based on the stories of survivors from that dark period in human history. I was privileged recently to watch a performance of this extraordinary work — click here to read about it in my blog entry from last month.
This was followed by a ceremony in which Holocaust survivors lit candles in memory of the millions of victims of the genocide in Europe. Readings by representatives of Ballet Austin, the Anti-Defamation League, the City of Austin and the Austin Police Department accompanied the solemn observance.
I had the honor of reading a poem by Pavel Friedman, a student who perished in the Holocaust. Little is known about this extraordinary young man, but we know he wrote "The Butterfly" while incarcerated in a concentration camp located in what is now the Czech Republic. Pavel was eventually deported to Auschwitz, where he died on September 29, 1944.
His beautiful and haunting poem was discovered at the end of the war. It has been read aloud at Holocaust remembrance events ever since. I was affected by his words, and I hope they have meaning for you.
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 love 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.