Holocaust Memorial Garden

The inspiration for the bronze sculpture, the centerpiece of the Temple Ohav Shalom Holocaust Memorial Garden, lays in the connection felt by congregant Jack Roseman, to a brother he never met.

Label Roseman and his family were among the six million Jews and the five million others who perished in the abyss of the Holocaust. Jack, who was born in America, grew up with the sound of his mother’s weeping, mourning her eldest child and grandchildren, lost forever.Holcaust Garden Sculpture

When the congregation moved to its current building in 1998, Jack saw an opportunity to memorialize his brother. He met with the artist, Michael Kraus, a fellow congregant, and who was commissioned to create the sculpture for a garden, which Jack would erect in his brother’s name.

Michael, who had designed the new temple’s ark and bimah, had already given thought to such a project. He shared his sketches with Jack. Their peaceful theme did not evoke the depth of emotion that Jack felt about his brother’s loss, however, and Jack challenged Michael to bring tears to the eyes of the beholder.

On a sunny drive some days later, Michael glanced at his prayer shawl (tallit) laying on the seat next to him. In that moment, he saw how the fringes on the corners of the tallit could be likened to the barbed wire surrounding the camps. He thought about the victims, but could not visualize their faces. He realized that the people were gone. Only their souls remained. The tallit, the essence of prayer, standing alone, dominated his thinking.

Jack was overwhelmed with the power of the new design and Michael set to work fashioning the model, which was cast in bronze. The barbed wire fringes were silver-soldered to the tallit by hand.

Finally, the garden site was designed. It includes a brick walkway that allows the viewer to approach the figure from behind, as though coming upon a man lost in prayer. The blank, masonry wall, and the imposing electrical apparatus that looms overhead, are hauntingly reminiscent of the specter of the camps. Then the plantings give relief. They convey the essence of hope and the beauty of the human spirit which prevails.

Temple Ohav Shalom is honored to be the host for this powerful, important monument, and thankful to Jack and Judy Roseman for making it possible. Though it may reside on these premises, it belongs to the entire community.

Parts of this text were excerpted from an article written by Georgia Atkin for The Jewish Chronicle.

The day will come – I hope soon – when we shall all understand that suffering can elevate man as well as diminish him…In the final analysis, it is not given to us to bring suffering to an end  that frequently is beyond us – but we can humanize it. To turn it into dialogue rather than sword depends only on us, on you.

Will we succeed? I yearn for this with all my heart…Help us not to despair of you. Or of mankind. And then perhaps, out of our reconciliation, a great hope will be born.
-Elie Wiesel

Visitors Are Welcome
Individuals or groups are welcome to visit the Temple Ohav Shalom Holocaust Memorial Garden. Contact the temple office to make an appointment for a tour of the garden.

About the artist
Michael Kraus has a degree in fine arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.   He and his wife, Cheryl Messick, and their two children, moved to the North Hills in 1997 and joined Temple Ohav Shalom at that time.  Michael was a significant contributor to the creation of the ark in the main sanctuary of the temple.   He designed, crafted and supervised the installation of the stone wall and the bronze doors. We are fortunate to have such a fine artist and craftsman in our midst and are honored to provide a home for one of his creations. You can see more of Michael’s work in Erie, Pennsylvania and Mansfield, Ohio, where his bronze statues were commissioned and erected.