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Taking Flight

Butterfly Mural Honors Children Killed in Holocaust

This past Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a beautiful and meaningful mural by Diana Shabtai was dedicated by Newport Beach Atid Hadassah members and blessed by the rabbi at Temple Bat Yahm in honor of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.
     Each clay butterfly on the 5-foot by 6-foot mural was hand-painted and decorated by the women of the Hadassah group, led by its co-founder, Shabtai and her mother, Nevona Shabtai.
    Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, was founded before Israel was a state and before women could vote.
        For over 100 years, Hadassah has worked to find and implement solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing each generation. Together, they aim to advance women’s health, supporting a strong Israel and instilling Jewish values in future generations.
      This installation is a symbol for courage, justice, remembrance and hope. The Butterfly Project, founded in 2006, memorializes the children killed in the Holocaust and honors survivors.
    The Butterfly Project has become a global and unifying memorial that uses the lessons of the Holocaust to teach about social justice and to remember the past, act responsibly in the present, and create a more peaceful future. It transforms resistance through art and education and empowers people to take action against injustice.
    The Hadassah group hopes this memorial inspires ongoing dialogue among people of all backgrounds and beliefs to create a more peaceful world.
    Every daisy symbolizes innocence, like the innocent children who were murdered in the Holocaust. The dove with the olive branch represents peace, innocence and purity.
    Hadassah hopes to eventually have temple youth participate in creating and extending more butterflies on the outer walls of the mural.
    Shabtai’s mural depicts elements and symbols mentioned in the poem that inspired the butterfly project, written by Pavel Friedman, a child prisoner murdered in 1944. The poem is titled “The Butterfly.”  The lotus flower symbolizes rising from a dark place into beauty and rebirth.
    The hummingbird can often be seen as a symbol of love, joy, and beauty, and is often associated with the sun and its life-giving energy and sone believe it the brings good luck and prosperity. The mushroom symbolizes spiritual growth, enlightenment, and rebirth. The mushroom’s life cycle, with its ability to emerge from darkness and decay, represents the cyclical nature of life, death, and transformation. The pond literally reflects the message (yizkor) that will always be in our hearts and minds… We shall remember and never forget.”               
        We thank all the Hadassah women and our mural artist, for participating in this meaningful project and awareness, and we honor the memory of six million Jewish lives lost to the atrocities of the Holocaust and pay tribute to the courage of those who resisted. And just months following the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, we also remember the Holocaust survivors murdered and abducted by Hamas on October 7th. Amidst the darkness, we find hope.
    Am Israel Chai.  

Diana Shabtai, Psy.D., ATR-BC is a contributing writer to Kiddish Magazine.

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