June 10 Mobius Talk Focuses on

Jews and Poland


By Susie Davidson

Advocate Correspondent


BOSTON - “What does memory offer, what do reparations repair, when is genocide over?” Artists Rachel Kadish, Erica Lehrer and Larry Mayer attempt to answer these grappling queries in "Reports From Afield: Significant Others: Jews and Poland” on Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. at Mobius, 354 Congress St., Boston. The free, 1.5 hour panel on current Jewish Poland, with a reception afterwards, will discuss the ramifications and growing global signifance of the Holocaust through these artists’ writings, photography and documentary work.


“The program,” says Mobius Communications Director Mary Curtin, “will consist of readings, animated by slides and video, and an exhibit of photographs and objects. “Attempts to grapple with the Holocaust, through memorials, financial transactions, court rulings, and moral debate re-animate severed connections between Jews and the places they left behind,” she says. “Poland, a place of great Jewish intimacy and loss, is perhaps the central place in Holocaust geography. Most U.S. Jews are Polish Jews, many locked in a tortured embrace with a land whose tragic mythology often obscures its modern reality.”


Boston-area artists Kadish, Lehrer and Mayer all spent time in Poland looking for family roots, identity, cultural memory and property. “Each,” says Curtin, “comes to the subject from a different perspective, incorporating photography, video, creative writing, and scholarly social, cultural and political analysis, responding to questions such as “Who are we today as we look back to Poland, to the Holocaust? What business, if any, remains unfinished between American Jews and non-Jewish Poles? In the words of Polish-born Jewish writer Rafael Scharf - "Poland, what have I to do with thee?"


Rachel Kadish, with an M.A. in creative writing from NYU, received grants from the Whiting and Rona Jaffe Foundations, was a fellow at the Radcliffe Bunting Institute and a 2000-2001 NEA fellow. Her writings have appeared in Story, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, Pakn Treger, Lilith, Air France, and Bomb, as well the anthologies Daughters of Kings (1997), Traveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories (1999), and the 1998 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her first novel, “From a Sealed Room,” (Putnam, 1998), was released as a Berkeley Signature Edition paperback and a Goldmann/Bertelsmann German translation this year. She teaches at the Harvard University Extension School.


Larry Mayer, with an M.A. in English Education from Columbia University, Teachers College, has published articles in Hadassah Magazine and the Boston Phoenix. His first book, “Who will say Kaddish: A Search for Jewish Identity in Contemporary Poland, with photographs by Gary Gelb,” will be published next month by Syracuse University Press.


Erica Lehrer’s doctoral dissertation thesis in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor concerns the intersections of Jewish cultural revival, identity, and tourism in Poland. A 1998-99 Fulbright scholar in Poland, she has received grants from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the United States Department of Education, the International Research and Exchanges Board and others.


Her essays and photographs have appeared in Pakn Treger, Bridges, the International Institute Journal, Polin (in press); her photography exhibit "The Motives of Memory: Commercializing the Jewish Past in Poland," ran at the University of Michigan and Grinnell College. Her photography has been recognized by Amnesty International, Lexington (MA) Council for the Arts, and the Anolic Memorial Fund for Visual Art. She received the Avery Hopwood and Jules Hopwood Graduate Essay Award at the University of Michigan.


Mobius Boston is an Artist-Run Center for Experimental Work in All Media. For reservations (recommended) for “Significant Others: Jews and Poland,” please call 617-542-7416, email mobius@mobius.org or visit http://www.mobius.org.