Article by Deborah Moon
Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, was observed virtually this year. The David Labkovski Project held a writing contest for students to ponder the meaning behind David Labkovski's art. Winners of the contest were included in the grand opening ceremony of our online exhibit "Documenting History through Art" and were featured in the virtual remembrance. Read about it on the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland's website or visit our Reflect and Respond page to view the winning entries!
These San Fernando Valley Students are Understanding the Holocaust through the Eyes of an Artist
Local Students Awarded Legacy of Hope
The World that Was, an Exhibit of David Labkovski’s Illustrations
This exhibit, which opened to the public on November 8th for a limited time, was curated by 6th grade students at Adat Ari El Labowe Day School. This multi-discipilinary and project-based curriculum put stories and art into historical context and explored Labkovski's purpose and intention in his art. You can see more photos and read about this exhibit on the Daily News page.
The life of Jewish artist David Labkovski was filled with tragedy. Born in Lithuania in 1906, he survived three years of imprisonment in a brutal Siberian gulag during World War II. He then returned to a devastated Lithuania, where over 95% of the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust. Throughout Labkovski’s life (He died in Israel at the age of 85.), he painted the story of his struggles and those of his community—the vanished, as well as the people and places that survived. “If it was a choice between a cup of coffee and paints, it was always paints and paintbrushes,” his great-niece Leora Raikin says of David and his wife, Rivka. “Their entire life’s focus was securing paint supplies in whatever form, to be able to document what had happened.”
The LAUSD is piloting a program here in the Valley - The David Labkovski Project - aimed at teaching students about the Holocaust.
The life of a Jewish artist David Labkovski was filled with tragedy. Born in Lithuania in 1906, he survived three years of imprisonment in a brutal Siberian gulag during World War II. He then returned to a devastated Lithuania, where over 95% of the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust. Throughout Labkovski's life (He died in Israel at the age of 85), he painted the story of his struggles and those of his community - the vanished, as well as the people and places that survived.
The exhibition, called “From Prisoner in Siberia to Artist in Safed, Israel. The story of Jewish destruction, survival and renewal as seen through the images of artist, David Labkovski (1906-1991)” has travelled the world. In South Africa, it went to Durban and will be exhibiting in Johannesburg on September 3.
Now living in Los Angeles, Raikin is in South Africa to talk about Labkovski’s art, as well as the David Labkovski Project, an educational programme she helped develop, that teaches students about Eastern European life before, during and after the Holocaust, through his art.
To read the full article, please click here.
Artworks of Jewish Gulag Survivor Headed to SA
Three months ago, eighth-graders at Canoga Park’s Multicultural Learning Center (MLC), a dual-language charter school with a mostly Latino student body, had little more than a basic understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust... Read the Rest Here
Eighth-grade students at a public charter school in Canoga Park recently learned about the Holocaust through the art of a late Holocaust survivor who was a Siberian exile...Read the Rest Here
“My great-uncle had these intense blue eyes. He could look at you for two minutes and be able to draw you in great detail,” began Leora Raikin, who has made it her mission to tell the life story of her great uncle, artist David Labkovski. At the first of several upcoming art exhibitions in Southern California, Labkovski’s work will be on display at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills on Sunday, April 10.... Read the Rest Here
* “I never expected I would care this much and be so excited to showcase these pictures. When I started this project, I didn’t know anything about David Labkovski (or the Holocaust) and now we are here to tell you his life story… The beautiful paintings give us a glimpse into this time period. They help you understand the pain and suffering of this time and how things changed with the before and after pictures (paintings of his childhood in Vilna/paintings of his return after the Holocaust.)
-Jordan, 8th grade student
* “Before beginning my time doing this project, I did not really identify with the Holocaust or its effects on Jewish life as a Jew. Rather I saw it as an unhappy topic that, like the atrocities of the Japanese occupation of Korea and other such horrific happenings in history, it just was. In some cases I outright avoided learning about it when I could.”
After participating in the program (David Labkovski Project), her outlook was transformed, “I have had to confront my own Jewish identity and apply myself to learning about the Holocaust. Through David and Rivka’s life and struggles, I learned how to see the Holocaust as less of another flat atrocity of history and more of a dynamic event that needs to be shared to the general public in order to make them understand its importance.”
-Sam, 10th grade student
* “By teaching through this window into the world that was, we are giving Jewish students a slice of their DNA.” He goes on to say, “ the DLP is a way in for creating Jewish identity. A way in to Jewish peoplehood, a way into history, a way to connect, a way into what was.”
-Dr. Bruce Powell, Head of School, deToledo High School
* “The resurgence of life in Eastern Europe is creating interest in the life before the Holocaust. Looking at life before is trending (in Holocaust education). There are few Holocaust education programs that focus on the communal life before the Holocaust. She went on to say that only when teens can better understand the magnitude of what was lost can they finally ‘get it’.
- Maya Aaron, Educator at the Bureau of Jewish Education, Los Angeles, and March of the Living