In January to April, 1992, MoMA, New York, showed my portraits from the just published book, Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust. Subsequently, from 1992 to 2002, the exhibit of these portraits and text toured to over 50 venues. Whereas the work was exhibited at many other important museums like The Corcoran and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, my favorites were the university galleries because, when my co-author Malka Drucker and I went to speak there, we learned that many students knew NOTHING about the Holocaust. Today’s statistic is much more serious: MORE than 50% of adults in both the USA and Canada are unaware of the fact that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, a percentage that is even higher among young people. This is the primary reason that I am, once again, working to circulate this exhibition. In addition, the fact that our current climate of increased fear and hatred of the other, of immigrants, of Jews and Muslims, makes this a vital subject for our times.
These portraits of Christians who risked their lives to save Jews is a moving and perhaps less threatening way to introduce people to Holocaust. We interviewed over 100 of these exceptional people – I never tire of telling their stories. When lecturing about them, I always talk about their heroic deeds even though they each denied that they were heroes, saying they did what everyone should have done. Rescuers weren’t all brave, they didn’t all have benign upbringings, some were educated, some illiterate, but they were all non-conformists – they wouldn’t obey or follow.
In July, a NY Times Lens blog https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/lens/holocaust-jews-rescuers.html inspired a Los Angeles theater producer to create a production, now being written. A new exhibit with recent (2019) prints is available for travel.
The entire exhibit can be viewed on my website: https://www.gayblock.com/rescuers-exhibit
It is now showing at the JFCS in Jacksonville, FL, will travel from there to Boca Raton and to Arkansas in 2020.
- Gay Block