They Called me Mayer July
I fell in love with this exhibit at the Jewish Museum. I believe in the act of rewriting History ourselves, and Mayer succeeds in giving us a look into how Jews lived than how they died. He was an adventurous young boy and in 1990 at the age of 73 started to paint from memory scenes and stories from his childhood. Of all the stories present in the exhibit The White Pajamas was the one that touched me the most.
The next time a baby boy was born, Yekhiel the Brunette followed the Rabbi’s instructions exactly. First, the Rabbi had given Yekhiel an amulet and told him to make the boy wear it all the time. The amulet would ward off evil spirits. Secondly, the child must always be dressed in white. Jews always bury their dead in white burial shrouds. The white clothes would fool the Angel of Death, the malakh hamoves, into thinking the boy was already dead, so he would not take him. This time the boy survived.When I left Opatow in 1934, the boy was eight years old. I was told that even as a teenager, the boy still wore the white pyjamas. He was dressed in white in 1942 when the Nazis expelled the Jews from Apt. The boy in white pyjamas perished with all the others.
All the exhibits up right now are great. There’s a short film from Yael Bartana also dealing with Poland and the relationship it’s had with Jews and other Europeans. The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River is a video installation that allows for public choice and intervention on the way the story moves. It is from Hungarian filmmaker Peter Forgacs and follows three historical stories, one of Eastern European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in 1939, the re-annexation of Bessarabia, and the occupation of Poland.
Last but not least there’s a tiny tiny exhibit of artists dealing with the holocaust in their work including Christian Boltanski, Anselm Kiefer, and George Segal, that’s really worth seeing.