Memories in stone
Tulsa students have decorated 3,000 stones to date with the names of children who died in the Holocaust. The stones are on display at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art.
I turned the stone over and my heart sank. The front of the river rock was decorated colorfully with a message: “You’re a good kid, love ya. Have a good afterlife.” On the other side was the age of death of the child for whom the message was written: 1.
When Tracey Herst-Woods, education coordinator at the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, shows these stones and others like them to Tulsans, “there is a gasp in the room when they see the age on the back,” she says. “The project becomes human to them; they feel the essence of the child.”
The project she speaks of is the Kinder-Stone Project, launched by the museum this past February to commemorate the children who perished during the Holocaust; more than 1 million Jews were under 18 at the time of their deaths.
“Kinder is the word for ‘child’ in German, and children were taken by a train, called Kinder Transport, (to) England (one of several countries many parents sent their children to be saved from the war) during the Holocaust,” Herst-Woods says. “That was the inspiration for Kinder-Stone.”
Kinder-Stone is part of a seventh-grade curriculum on the Holocaust and Jewish history that Herst-Woods developed for Tulsa Public Schools in collaboration with TPS, the Council for Holocaust Education and professors at area universities.
“We wanted the students to have an interaction with who these children were,” Herst-Woods says.
Seventh-graders take a group tour at the museum and, while there, decorate a stone collected by museum staff.
The concept stems from the Jewish custom of placing stones on graves.
“We believe in putting stones on a Jewish grave because stones last forever,” Herst-Woods says. “That’s how we remember.”
The museum plans to commemorate with a hand-decorated stone every child who died in the Holocaust — approximately 1.5 million — a process that it estimates will take 10 years, according to Herst-Woods. So far, students have decorated 3,000 stones.
“I explain to the students to decorate the stones in a respectful way, to honor (the victims’) lives,” Herst-Woods says. “The artistry that comes out of the children ... they write things like, ‘Keeping your memory alive,’ ‘You live now through me,’ and ‘You’re in my heart’. They place the stones carefully in the (holding) bin. They are very compassionate. We are getting through to them to honor life.”
The next step in the Kinder-Stone Project is to place the stones in the Jewish Federation Community Garden on the Zarrow campus, 2021 E. 71st St., by the end of this summer. In the meantime, Tulsans can see the stones on exhibit at the Sherwin Miller Museum.
The public is welcome to take the museum tour and decorate a stone. Herst-Woods also needs volunteers to coat the stones with polyurethane to help preserve them.
“All are welcome,” she says. “We have parents participate; teachers, too. It’s been exciting.”
Call 918-492-1818 or visit www.jewishmuseum.net for more information on tours and volunteering.
Also this month
Tulsa Camerata: From Paris to Moscow The season finale of Tulsa Camerata partners the chamber musicians with Grammy-nominated pianist Petronel Malan. 7 p.m., April 3, Philbrook Museum of Art, Patti Johnson Wilson Hall, 2727 S. Rockford Road. Tickets are $20. Visit www.tulsacamerata.org.
Mahler Resurrection Symphony Retiring conductor Dr. Barry Epperley will lead the Signature Symphony at TCC a final time with Gustav Mahler’s powerful Second Symphony. The concert will feature vocalists Lindsey McKee and April Golliver, along with the Signature Chorale. 7:30 p.m., April 12, TCC VanTrease Performing Art Center, 10300 E. 81st St. Tickets are $25-35. Call 918-595-7777 or visit www.myticketoffice.com.
Musical Mondays Tulsan Janet Rutland will perform at the opener of this five-concert series presented by LIFE Senior Services. 7 p.m., April 21, Cascia Hall Performing Arts Center, 2600 S. Utica Ave. Tickets are $8, single concert; $35, five-concert series. Call 918-664-9000, ext. 245.