The loss the world experiences when people die before their time is difficult to comprehend. Jewish tradition suggests it is immeasurable: “anyone who destroys a life is considered to have destroyed an entire world” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).
When immeasurable loss is magnified over millions of souls, it becomes so large as to engender a kind of numbness. Statistics don’t evoke emotion. Individuals, though. Individuals we relate to, we see ourselves in them. Individual’s stories make us want to take action.
That reality is part of what drives the exhibit Stitching History with the Holocaust, curated by the Jewish Museum Milwaukee (JMMilwaukee), and opening at the Jewish Museum of Maryland April 7, 2019.
As the decades pass and the survivors and witnesses to the cruelty and horror of the Holocaust pass on, what lives on is statistics: 6 million Jewish lives lost to the camps, 5 million other lives lost in the camps, 416,000 American soldiers lost. They become numbers.
Stitching History reminds us that every single one of those numbers was a human being with loves and hopes and fears, and, notably, talents that were stolen from the world.