Art exhibits highlight Jewish resilience against adversity

January 24, 2023 (Volume 46, Number 10)
Article by Clemence Daniere

The Kaufman Interfaith Institute is hosting the “Remembrance in Action Art Exhibition,” which features two exhibitions at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences that focus on antisemitism in the past and present. 

Kyle Kooyers, associate director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, said he noticed strong emotional reactions from people viewing the exhibition.

“It is rare that I see a dry eye walking out of our space after perusing those pieces, reading their descriptions and just taking a moment to pause and sit with the context from which these pieces were put together,” said Kooyers.

As a unit within the Division of Inclusion and Equity, the institute promotes interfaith understanding on campus and in West Michigan through events and initiatives. Kooyers said these exhibitions serve as a response to the historical wrong-doings that were committed against the Jewish community in the U.S. and overseas.

The first exhibit, “The Holocaust Unfolds: Reports From Detroit, 1933-1961,” features newspaper clippings from the Detroit Jewish News and Detroit Jewish Chronicles that were written before, during and after World War II. This exhibit takes the viewer through the war’s progression, divulging more information with each newspaper feature. 

The second exhibit, “From Darkness to Light: Mosaics Inspired by Tragedy,” features artwork by Susan Ribnick of Austin, Texas, and members of her community who were outraged after the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The mass shooting resulted in 11 deaths and is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S. 

“The exhibit looks to not only highlight the tragic events but also look towards all the light and togetherness that met that violence. It seeks to not only pursue healing but also to combat the hate, bigotry and antisemitism from this and other instances of violence,” Kooyers said.

Remembrance in Action is the first art exhibition sponsored by the Kaufman Interfaith Institute. The temporary gallery, which includes artwork from an exhibit in Battle Creek, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in CHS, room 290. It runs through February 15. Members of the public can make scheduling arrangements online.

On Thursday, January 26, WGVU Public Media will host a screening of “L’dor v’dor: An Eternal Tree,” a WGVU documentary on the Holocaust Memorial at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion by GVSU and community members. Register for the event online.

A Grand Valley team created a website to honor and tell the stories of West Michigan survivors of the Holocaust. 


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This article was last edited on January 24, 2023 at 10:0 a.m.

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