From Darkness to Light (View from Yad Vashem)


From Darkness to Light is the image for April in The Jewish Eye 5778/2018 Calendar of ArtOn my first trip to Jerusalem, the second place I visited after the Kotel (Western Wall) was Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum.  I immediately loved this side of the city, with its spacious valleys and sunlit, patchy hills.  What a contrast to step into the dark, angular world of the Holocaust, in the heart of the modern nation that was formed as a result of that tragedy.  This painting strives to express this duality of darkness and light.

Passing from one exhaustively documented, meticulously presented exhibit to the next, one is quickly overwhelmed.  The sheer volume of numbers to be grasped is staggering.  At the end of all this is the massive Hall of Names, with its high cylindrical atrium bearing photos of many thousands who perished in the Shoah (Holocaust).  The archives below the photos silently commemorate 3.9 million Jews.  Three million more have yet to be identified.  Wiping my tears, I stopped at the office to ask for a form with which I would add the names of my Hungarian great-aunts and great-grandparents to the database.

Every person depicted in this painting is based on a real photograph in the Hall of Names, which I was able to view up close on the museum’s website.

At the end of the museum’s dark passage, I felt as if I had been digested somehow by this canal of human suffering.  All previous conceptions of the Holocaust were broken down, and the particles of new information were sinking in at a cellular level.  I was glad to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, where dazed visitors exit the building via an open air balcony that overlooks the forested hills of Jerusalem.  One emerges from the convulsive sorrow of the Shoah into the spacious, sunny relief of being in Israel.  Tov l’hiyot ba’aretz – it is good to be on the land.  And it is easy to imagine the souls of all those faces escaping their papery confines and floating beyond the building to rest in the trees, to soak into the earth from whence their ancestors came so long ago.  The roots of Jewish ancestry are everywhere in Israel, and they continue to fertilize the soil from which the nation grows.

The Jewish Eye 5778 / 2018 Calendar of Art is on sale in the new Jewish section of my webstore:  $16 until the end of Sukkot, including shipping within the continental U.S.
$18 on Amazon.

Wishing my Jewish readers Shana Tova u’Metukah – a good and sweet new year!

D Yael Bernhard

Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!


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