Evidence

11. Evidence (Back Gallery)

This painting depicts a pile of books arranged in the shape of a synagogue. Dating back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, wooden synagogues were a unique architectural feature in Poland and Lithuania. These synagogues are considered "original Jewish folk art" by many scholars. During the war, the Nazis burned all the wooden synagogues. They destroyed or desecrated more than 700 synagogues. In Bak’s painting, the books are shaped in the form of one of these destroyed synagogues. The books surround what looks like remnants of the roof truss, yet another unique feature of these synagogues. So, what do these books signify? The books represent Jewish learning, knowledge and history; they also represents Judaism itself. The painting reveals what was held within the synagogues. The synagogues where were learning took place. The painting represents all that was taken away: spaces to congregate, to gather, to come together as a people. The Hebrew letters represent the Ten Commandments: Aleph. Bet. Gimel.... 1. 2. 3. It is a testimony to a world destroyed. It also reflects a willingness to rebuild that which was lost—but since what was constructed was a synagogue of books, it reminds that what was taken can never be returned.

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