Holocaust photo exhibit to be held at Bates; survivor and author to speak

Remembering Luboml: Images of a Jewish Community, a photo exhibit of daily life in a Polish shtetl (village), will be displayed at Bates College on the first floor of the George and Helen Ladd Library from April 5 through June 19. In honor of the exhibit’s opening, Holocaust survivor Judith Magyar Isaacson, author and former dean of students at Bates, will deliver a talk, Return to Auschwitz: How to Forgive? at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, in Skelton Lounge of Chase Hall. The public is invited to attend both the exhibit and lecture free of charge.

The Jewish community of Luboml, dating from the 14th century, was among the oldest in Poland. By the 1930s, Libivne (as it was called in Yiddish), had a vibrant community of 4,000 Jews. The years between the first and second World Wars were a period of great cultural ferment in this shtetl (village).

While the family and traditional religious institutions continued to play a central role, they were joined, and sometimes challenged, by modern intellectual attitudes, styles of dress and other secular influences — particularly Zionism — which increasingly influenced this corner of Eastern Europe.

Jewish life in Luboml came to an abrupt end in October 1942, when the Germans murdered almost all of the town’s Jews. Only 51 Libivners (excluding those who had emigrated before the war) survived the Holocaust.

In 1994, Aaron Ziegelman, a Libivner who emigrated to the United States in 1938, initiated the Luboml Exhibition Project to preserve the history and the memory of the “shtetl.” To date, the project has collected nearly 2,000 photographs and artifacts from more than 100 families and archives around the world, and has videotaped oral histories with many Libivners. Remembering Luboml features highlights from the collection.

A native of Hungary and an Auburn resident, Isaacson is a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau and of Hessisch Lichtenau, a satellite camp of Buchenwald. Her book, Seed of Sarah: Memoirs of a Survivor (University of Illinois Press, 1990), has been a best seller for both the press and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum bookstore.

An expanded edition and a German edition of the book were published in 1991, followed by a Hungarian edition in 1993. The chamber opera Seed of Sarah, composed by Mark Polishook, premiered in 1995. A film based on the opera will be released by a London producer later this year.

Isaacson served on the governing boards at Bowdoin College and recently received its Hargraves Freedom Prize. She holds honorary doctoral degrees from Bates and Colby colleges and the University of New England.

Isaacson’s talk is part of the Bates College lecture series Spiritual Journeys: Stories of the Soul featuring individuals who represent a variety of religious traditions, disciplines and professions. The photography exhibit is sponsored by the Office of the College Chaplain, the college’s Jewish Cultural Community and the Bates history department.

Ladd Library hours fom April 5 through April 25 are are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hours from April 26 through the end of the month of May are Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday noon to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Summer hours, beginning June 1, are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The library is closed Saturdays and Sundays during the summer.

View Comments