Tag Archives: Poland

The Power of Goodness

Today, November 11 is Remembrance Day . Throughout the British Commonwealth we wear a red remembrance poppy. Memorial ceremonies are conducted to memorialize the fallen soldiers of World War II and the present; and to honour the heroes in the armed forces who still put their lives at risk to ensure democracy and freedom.

Heroes come in many guises. One such hero was  Bronisław Huberman. Huberman was a child prodigy who amazed the world.  At the age of 9  he played Brahms’ complicated concerto for violin – in front of the composer himself.

Huberman went on to be hailed as the world’s greatest violinist. When the Nazis came to power in 1933 Huberman foresaw the horror awaiting Jews. He went to Palestine and decided to create a national symphony orchestra made up of the best Jewish musicians in Europe. Between 1933 and 1936 he hired 70 musicians, bringing them AND their families to Palestine. All told, he saved at least 800 Jews from death. The inaugural concert of the  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (then known as the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra ) was in 1936, conducted by  Arturo Toscanini.

Huberman played a Stradivarius which was stolen from Carnegie Hall in 1936. Huberman died in 1947 and the violin  was relinquished in 1987.  Fifteen years after that violinist Joshua Bell bought it for close to 4 million dollars.

Huberman’s story is told in the movie, Roy Mandel: The Return of the Violin – YouTube . It is an incredible, moving film weaving together the lives of Huberman and another great man, Sigmund Rolat. Rolat and Huberman were both born in Częstochowa, Poland. Both men are heroes. Huberman saved hundreds of lives and built a symphony orchestra. Rolat, a survivor, has created cultural festivals, educational programmes, created employment and breathed new life into Germany and Poland.

P1140366art by Laya Crust

The message from this extraordinary movie resonates with the message of Remembrance Day. Each of us has the ability to make the world a better place. To make the world a better place we have to remember the past and recognize the present. Beautifying the world with music, art, good deeds and helping those around us will help create a better reality. Each of us can use our  resources and our awareness to right a wrong whether it is big or small.

One last thing-here is a reflection written by my Uncle Mort Lightstone on his career in the RCAF. Follow this link:  2015 – Remembrance Day .

Have a wonderful day, and let’s make the world a better place.

B’vracha, Laya






Filed under Uncategorized

My family and I were fortunate enough to see a series of 36 beautiful needleworks by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz.

Esther was born in the small village of Mniszek, Poland in 1927. Three years after WW2 began the Nazis took over the village. 15 year old Esther and her younger sister Mania went into hiding. They posed as Catholic Polish farm girls, surviving the war and deportations. As a child Esther had been trained as a dressmaker and as an adult she used all her skills to share her memories. In 1977, at the age of 50, Esther decided to tell her story through needlework pictures. She continued creating her fibre art until she died at the age of 77.

Each of the 36 panels tells a multi-layered story. We see rural farm life with details of home life, working the fields, and religious observance.  This picture shows the Jews of Mniszek making matzah together.

While one woman made dough for her own batch of matzah the other women shared in the rolling. The shoemaker Mottel scored the dough, and his son Yankl put the matzah into the fire. I love the detail. We can see the shoes Mottel made on one wall and on another we see pots and even a potato grater.

The pastoral setting and details of the farms and countryside are lovely. Esther loved nature.  She sewed flowers, crops, trees, and  grass, utilizing many techniques.

She used applique, painted fabric, crochet, collage, crewel work, and embroidery. She used three dimensions and added curtains, braids, and in one piece there is even a curtain that can open and close.  In some scenes, such as the one below, there is a time lapse. This particular piece shows the two sisters in 4 different situations. The subject matter is often jarring. and can reduce the viewer to tears with the details of cruelty, loss and terrible reality.

If you ever have a chance to see this exhibit you should go. Alternatively go to  http://artandremembrance.org/    You will be able to read about Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, see her art and watch an interview with her.

Memories can be communicated through many forms of art- painting, fibre art, music, dance, poetry, sculpture, story telling, graphic novels, and more. We are lucky when we have the good fortune to share those memories because they have been put into the world by people like Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and her daughters.

Shabbat Shalom, Laya


November 26, 2014 · 4:41 pm