Wall of Hope and Holocaust Memory

Kevah and Kavanah

The Wall of Hope and Holocaust Memory


Over the years, I have explained the dynamic that we experience as we read our sacred story from the Torah Scroll. As we know, there are no  vowels or punctuation in the Scroll.  When one reads from the Torah, the reader learns the vowels and punctuation from a reading resource, remembering these details and then offering them alongside the consonant written in the Scroll.  

These consonants are the Kevah, the physical, concrete, fixed  elements.  They are matched by our Kavannah, the intention, spirit, creativity that brings the Kevah to life. Kevah is like sheet music. Kavanah is the way the musician, with skill and artistic flair, breathe and effort, brings the music to life.  As I tell our Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, our ancestors have given us the two dimensional Torah Scroll, “Black Fire on White Fire.” It is up to us to learn the sounds of our story and then breathe our voice into the words bringing them off the page, to life.  The interplay between Kevah and Kavanah, the fixed words and the creative energy of our spirit, is one of the most vital dynamics of our tradition.  Time and again we combine the Kevah and Kavnah to connect our past, present and future,  bringing memory into reality.


We have the opportunity to create this interaction in a different aspect of our congregation.  Over the last number of months, we have added to our Butterfly Project activities with the creation of a Wall of Hope and Holocaust Memory.   


So many people have been part of the inspiration, design and creation of this wall.  

From Monica Maria Tetzlaff, who gave Beth Shalom the Viktor Olgyai painting setting the creation of this wall in motion *  Glenda Taylor of Indian River Clay, who has enabled us to make hundreds (if not thousands) of ceramic butterflies  * Gabe Kaplan, Richard Bialosky and Bryson Valley, who created the outdoor Butterfly Tree of Memory  *  Shanti Sanchez who connected us with the Butterfly Project and passing the mantle to Hannah Daniel who expanded this project into a community wide effort *   Steven and Linda Friedman, who worked with Aric Attas to create a reproduction of the Viktor Olgyai Painting and then stepped forward to fund the restoration of the original painting for this wall   *  Steve and Linda joined with Clara McCarthy, Susan Berlin and the Shackelton family to share stories of their families’ experiences during the Holocaust *  Chloe Schwartz and Taylor Chim, who have provided the design  * and finally, Ashley Shackelton who stepped forward to lead and fund the effort to turn the idea of a Wall of Hope and Holocaust Memory, into a reality (honoring her grandmother’s survival and her daughter Alexandra becoming Bat Mitzvah)

They have created the Wall of Hope and Holocaust Memory, a powerful new Kevah for our congregation and community. Now, we have to bring our Kavanah, our life, our spirit, our energy to not just look at the wall, but to bring the stories and values it embodies to life.  


We invite you to join us on May 11th at 3pm as we officially unveil this wall exhibit in the Religious School Hall of the Sanctuary building. We will appreciate the efforts of those who took time to create the Wall, and hear the stories from those featured on the Wall.  Help us by seeing the Wall, hearing those stories and finding ways with us, with Community One       Initiative, Religious School and Enrichment Committee, as we  offer programs, activities and opportunities to combine this new place of Kevah in our congregation with the Kavanah of Hope and Memory.

Chag Sameach and B’Shalom,

Rabbi Michael Birnholz