Berit Engen: WEFT and D'RASH – Weaving a Thousand Jewish Tapestries

– Stored in Milk Cans Were Books, Tears, and Candy Wrappers


Included on the UNESCO Memory of the World list in 1999, the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto is a unique collection of testimonies about the extermination of Polish Jewry.
Warsaw, 1946, in the flattened ghetto: survivors Hirsh Wasser and Rachela Auerbach locate the ruins of the Jewish school on 68 Nowolipki Street where in 1943 Oyneg Shabbos (codename for a secret organization led by Jewish historian Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum.) had hidden in its basement ten metal boxes with a variety of documents and texts, recent interviews, and artifacts documenting life in the ghetto during the German occupation. Miraculously, they found the boxes. 
I choe to weave the boxes and three milk cans (of which two have been found) being hidden underground during the frantic ghetto uprising, the quiet scene after the deportations, and last, their contents collected by people awaiting their deaths, now neatly placed on shelves in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
The bird is the Shivve-Foygl, the Bird of Mourning, mentioned in in a poem by the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger. He wrote the poem upon returning to Warsaw, the center of Yiddish culture, after the war. He found nothing left of the great and vibrant Jewish community.
 (5/5 tapestries)

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