This past Monday saw The Butterfly Project, a global initiative to commemorate the 1.5 million children killed during the Holocaust with butterflies, take hold at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds on Long Island.
Volunteers painted wooden butterflies and arranged them on the walls of the entrance to the Kathy and Alan Greenberg Sports Pavilion, along with 1000 other butterflies painted by campers at each of the seven camps that call the Long Island campgrounds home. Earlier in the summer blank butterflies were distributed to the camps, along with paint, paint brushes and information about the project.
“I think being part of a larger community is important, teaching children that they are part of a larger community,” said volunteer Rosemarie Klipper. “This message is forging respect toward one another.” Other volunteers would speak similarly, highlighting the importance of teaching kids about their past.
All this proceeded under the watchful eye of artist Janine Bendicksen, who created the mural. Bendicksen said she’d been out of the mural-painting business for some time before getting the call to get involved with The Butterfly Project from HKC Director of Development Felicia Solomon. “I was excited and I said ‘let me know.’ We just started talking about ideas.” The mural that came of this – a number of children standing together against blue sky and green grass,marveling at an expanse of space that was soon filled with butterflies – was bright and cheery, without losing sight of its historical resonance.
At lunch afterwards, volunteers heard a number of speakers, the most notable of whom was Holocaust survivor Harriet Jonas. She shared snippets from an incredible life story that took her from Poland and Austria to Mongolia, and then to the United States. “Jewish kids have to stick together,” she asserted more than once, echoing the ethic of Jewish camping and community building held so deeply by the HKC, and expressed by all of the other speakers.
|The Butterfly Project was co-founded in 2006 by educator Jan Landau and artist Cheryl Rattner Price at the San Diego Jewish Academy as a way to bring to life the teaching of the Holocaust to children. It has become a global memorial, with 200 communities from all over the world, including Canada, Mexico , Israel, Australia, Tanzania, France, Cuba, Morocco and Poland adding to the count.|
The name was inspired by popular, heartbreaking poem “The Butterfly,” written by 11-year-old Pavel Friedman while inside a concentration camp. The poem laments the fact its speaker will never see another butterfly, but manages to find hope in unexpected places.