Summary of the 1999 Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Memorial Event
This year's Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Memorial Event was held on April 22 in the UMD Kirby Student Center Ballroom. The feature speaker, Cara de Silva, presented a lecture concerning her award-winning book, In Memory's Kitchen. Her lecture celebrated the accomplishments of a small band of brave women who, while they did not survive, provided a means for preserving their culture and heritage for their descendants and others willing and interested to learn about that culture and heritage. The story of this effort offers affirmation for the value of women's roles within the Jewish community, as well as the broader function of women across cultures. In a way, this event demonstrated how the simple and seemingly mundane represents the essence of a people. By commemorating this collection of recipes, and the motivation behind the effort of reconstructing them from memory, the event allowed those who attended to recognize and celebrate the value of so-called traditional roles women have played over time.
Cara de Silva edited and wrote the introduction to In Memory's Kitchen a compilation of recipes that women who were in the Terezin Camp during World War II gathered together as a means of preserving memories of their past and their humanity. She discussed the significance of this book within the contexts of Czech culture (the culture of origin for many of the women), women and culteral resistance/perserverence in the camps, food and survival in the camps, and the little known genre of recipe books during the Holocaust, which like Anne Frank's well-known diary, were assembled for either personal or communal reading/viewing.
The lecture itself was preceded by a showing of the 17 minute film, Incarcerated Dreams, which focused on the children on Terezin and, in particular, their crayon and chalk drawings. The lecture was followed by a reception in the Griggs Center. The UMD Food Services reconstructed several of the seventy recipes in the book for celebration and consumption. These recipes were partaken, since doing so put the participants in communion with the women of Terezin who tasted these recipes last in their imaginations only.
The night before (Wednesday, April 21 in the communal hall of Temple Israel), as part of the Temple Book Club monthly meeting there was a presentation of readings from I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of poems and artwork by the children of Terezin. Ms. de Silva was the honored guest.
Thus, this year's event had a few dimensions to it. In general, it demonstrated and analyzed how culture binds community together and functions to preserve memory and maintain identity/resistance. Our special focus was on the women and children who served as preservationists at Terezin.