Holocaust Remembrance Day with Elie Wiesel’s "Night"

04/18/2017 07:32 pm ET

Last week was definitely a week to remember; with our spirits high during Passover and Easter, and our moods lowered as we approached tax day. It would be good, I thought, to tell you about a special artistic/literary event –– a public reading of the memoir by Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel (2928–2016), “who, more than anyone else, seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience.” In commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day, a reading of Mr. Wiesel’s memoir Night will take place this coming Sunday, April 23 at theWilshire Boulevard Temple. In 1986, Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. “President Obama, who visited the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp with Mr. Wiesel in 2009, called him a ‘living memorial’.”

Elie Wiesel with President Obama in 2011 | Photo: Obama White House (https://flic.kr/p/bmE1ZM)
Elie Wiesel with President Obama in 2011 | Photo: Obama White House (https://flic.kr/p/bmE1ZM)

For two hours ––between 4 and 6pm––, a very diverse group of people will each read a couple of pages from this memoir. Among them, well known actors, journalists, politicians, religious and civil leaders including Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Kenneth Turan, Zev Yaroslavsky, Rabbi David Wolpe, and the list goes on. Needless to say, I am honored to be included in this group of readers.

T: Exterior of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 1968; B: Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Courtesy of Wilshire Boulevard Temple
T: Exterior of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in 1968; B: Wilshire Boulevard Temple

If you haven’t been to Wilshire Boulevard Temple, this is a wonderful opportunity to experience this historical landmark –– a 1929 Byzantine-style building. It recently underwent an extensive restoration and you definitely will be impressed by its sumptuous architecture and the richness of its interior decor. The most unusual aspect of it is a 320 ft-long mural wrapping around the interior. This mural was commissioned by the Warner Brothers and was painted in a dramatic style reminiscent of Hollywood silent era movies.

Installation view of the main gallery, Zadok Ben-David, <em>“People I Saw But Never Met” </em>at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Installation view of the main gallery, Zadok Ben-David, “People I Saw But Never Met” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery

And here’s another cultural experience I’d like to bring to your attention: there’s an exhibition by London-based Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David at Shoshana Wayne Gallery. And trust me –– there are plenty of things to look at there and wonder what they are and how they are made. To be precise: there are 3,000 flat miniature figures made out of aluminum, all of them stuck in the sand that covers the gallery floor.

Works by Zadok Ben-David from <em>“People I Saw But Never Met” </em>at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Works by Zadok Ben-David from “People I Saw But Never Met” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery

This exhibition is the result of Ben-David’s numerous trips to Europe, the United States, Central Asia, Far East Australia, and Antarctica. While traveling, the artist took an endless amount of photographs, photographs of people he observed from a distance and that’s why his current exhibition is titled “People I Saw But Never Met".

Works by Zadok Ben-David from <em>“People I Saw But Never Met” </em>at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Works by Zadok Ben-David from “People I Saw But Never Met” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery

My first impression was that there were no more than a few hundred sculptures placed on the floor of the main gallery. It’s difficult to imagine the patience and logistics it took the artist to cut these 3,000 sculptures, each one an individual portrait of a particular person treated with dignity and respect.

Work by Zadok Ben-David from <em>“People I Saw But Never Met” </em>at Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Work by Zadok Ben-David from “People I Saw But Never Met” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery

“Ben-David’s accumulation of real-life global people suggests the ways in which we are both isolated yet always in relation to one another.”

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Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward’s charming Russian accent, click here.

To learn about Edward’s Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can also read more about his classes in the New York Times here and in Artillery Magazine.

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