There is something on my heart that I’ve got to share with you. I hope you’ll take some time and read this through to capture the vision and how you can participate. As a mom, I’m sure that you can relate to the feeling that our children are our greatest gift. Yeah, sometimes they drive me a little nuts, but if asked to state my greatest accomplishment in life I would have to say Chloe, Caibry, Nevie and Sadie.
They are my world and I simply could not imagine a world without them in it. I’m sure you can relate.
In fact, it’s probably this maternal juice that first bubbled up in me when I heard about the Butterfly Project. As an artist, I was looking for ways to contribute my talents to worthy causes. During my search I came across the opportunity to create two-dimensional butterflies that I could then contribute to the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas. In 2014 they are seeking to display their vast collection of butterfly submissions from young and old artists alike. Each winged beauty will represent one of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.
Now this project isn’t exclusive to artists. ANYONE could create a butterfly. ANYONE could remember one of these lost children. Upon seeing this, I got out my art supplies and rallied my little artists. I borrowed my friend’s children and we painted and we played together. All the while I was extremely aware of the gift I had in them. My children were free to mix colors and swirling pigments; they were free to experiment without being experimented on by the cruel hands of Hitler’s Gestapo.
Like you, I’m aware of the reality of the past and the horrific position children were put in during Hitler’s regime. I feel a bond with their mothers, and a responsibility, if you will, to get the word out about this project. It’s something I’m truly passionate about.
At this point you may be thinking, “Alright Heather, you do realize it’s just a paper butterfly don’t you? How can it make a difference?” Well, it speaks volumes to the families of Holocaust survivors. It really is more than paper. It’s a gift of solidarity, a commitment to remember these innocent victims, and create beauty out of ashes. It gives them a legacy. It’s a mission on their behalf. Your butterfly gives a child a voice.
Okay, so I had about 50 butterflies created when my family began to attend a Messianic congregation. This made me even more alert to the similarities between these children who perished in the Holocaust and my own kiddos. They weren’t that different you know? Children are all the same at their core. Their imaginations, dreams, and fantasies are their playgrounds. What if the imagination was fragmented, the dreams nightmares, and the playground a concentration camp?
A Little History:
During World War II the Nazis despised Messianic Jews. Amidst this landscape pastors of some Christian congregations still chose to embrace Messianic Jews, those who accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. In July 1933 the heat was turned up when these churches were made to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler and all churches were made to institute the Aryan Paragraph and exclude Messianic Jews. Messianic Jews were already expelled from the Jewish community and synagogue due to their belief in the Messiah. The Aryan Paragraph sought to further isolate these believers from fellowship in the Christian circles, leaving them without any sense of religious community. This may seem like a small loss to some, but in Jewish culture the fellowship that allows them to grow in their understanding of scripture by debate and dialogue is paramount. In essence, Hitler was attempting to strip them of God, working intentionally to create in them a psyche of rejection and neglect.
Understanding the ramifications, many churches refused to accept the oath. As a result, many church leaders were arrested and murdered in concentration camps in the coming years. The Aryan Paragraph achieved its mission to force Jewish Christians out of the church. And those with non-Jewish heritage who embraced the Hebraic mindset, sought to keep Torah, and honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were also in danger of the wrath of Hitler. By their allegiance to this most threatened people group, these Hebraic Christians were basically waving a red flag before a raging bull, professing clearly whose side they were on.
Dating from Bible times onward, the will to stand up for YHVH, to face His critics head on and take the consequences as they came, has never been too big of a risk for a true believer. With pure conviction and certainty in the Torah, they clung to the truth that when they stood before the enemy they would surely not stand alone; for a host of angels would wage the war in unison with each brave step an individual took. Through that knowledge they faced the worst. They endured the shattering loss of loved ones, children ripped from their arms, terror, torture, and the worst the world could bring against them. Yet, the promise remained steadfast. The aching pain preceded a glorious reunion; and for that they would do it all again if they would have to. May they never have to.
The Bottom Line:
1.5 million children died in the Holocaust. Many were Jewish; no doubt some were children of these Messianic believers. Children like mine. Among them were also gypsies and handicapped children, anyone who was deemed unworthy of life by Hitler’s cruel standards. These were ordinary children. They were boys and girls who slept with their favorite toys and played their favorite games, which laughed and fought with their siblings, who begged Mommy to kiss their booboos and Daddy to tell a bedtime story. They had dreams and futures until everything was stolen by war and hate.
We would like to believe that the world is very different then it was in Hitler’s day. Yet, I am not convinced that such hate could not rise up again. It has so many times before. Who are we to think we could be immune? It seems evident to me that the key to prevention of any illness, whether the flu, AIDS, or simply the heinous ignorance of hate, is to foster awareness of the results. Remembering what was and what might be if we don’t carve out a fresh future is precious. It puts 1.5 million butterflies to flight and honors those mommies like us who would want our children remembered if the shoe was on the other foot.“Children were neither just the mute and traumatized witnesses to this war, nor merely innocent victims; the war invaded their imaginations and the war raged inside them.” Nicholas Stargardt in “Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives Under the Nazis”
They were innocent dreamers, awakened to war. Don’t they deserve to be honored?
Will you please help by participating in this project? Tell your church, your synagogue, your school etc. and start creating some colorful butterflies. Let’s bring some color and beauty to the page in honor of children who were robbed of a childhood.
- Skill is not the key, volume is the key. 1.5 million is a HUGE number. Together we can help every child be represented.
- All ages are welcome.
- Completed Butterflies cannot be over 8x10 inches.
- Any medium is accepted but two-dimensional submissions are preferred.
- Please Do Not use glitter or food products on your butterfly.
- Ask artists to sign them on the back only.
*The above butterflies were created by children ages 4-10. For an easy project give each child a poster board and have them smear paints in an abstract pattern across the entire surface. Cut out butterfly shapes after the paint dries. One child created over 70 butterflies with one poster board using this method.
Butterflies are due by Dec. 13th, 2012
Mail or bring your Butterflies to:
Holocaust Museum Houston
5401 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77004
Remember to include your name, organization/school, address, email address, and number of butterflies sent.
If you live close to me just give me a call and I’ll pick up your butterfly stash and mail them for you along with my collection. Please have them counted.
You can see more details at http://www.hmh.org/ed_butterfly1.shtml
I cannot tell you how much it means to me personally that you have taken the time to read this letter and that you would consider participating. Please let me know if you decide to send butterflies and how many you’ve sent.