Teens help Holocaust survivor share her tapestries on Jewish history and concentration camp experience – Orange County Register

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Freely translated, the Yiddish word “bashert” means “intended to be.”

Trudie Strobel, 82, of San Marino, says it was bashert that put the Holocaust survivor – a gifted tapestry artist – in touch with two teenagers and a foundation that celebrates creative students keen to foster a positive change.

  • Dan Pitman examines the tapestry created by Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel, 82, in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry titled “Final Destination,” depicts Strobel’s time imprisoned in a Nazi camp. The Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County organized an exhibition of Strobel’s tapestries. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Tapestry titled “1942” by Trudie Strobel, 82, Holocaust survivor in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry depicts a Nazi soldier taking Strobel’s doll. Strobel’s tapestries are on display at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Tapestry titled “Kristallnacht” by 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel, shown in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry depicts Kristallnacht or the Night of Shattered Glass and is on display at the Merage County Jewish Community Center Orange. . (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Orange County Merage Jewish Community Center hosted an exhibition of tapestries created by 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel, shown in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A large tapestry, entitled “Final Destination”, created by 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel, is presented in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry represents the time of Strobel imprisoned in a Nazi camp. The Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County organized an exhibition of Strobel’s tapestries. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A detail of the tapestry created by Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobe, 82, is shown in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry titled “Final Destination” depicts Strobel’s time imprisoned in a Nazi camp. The Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County organized an exhibition of Strobel’s tapestries. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A detail of the tapestry, titled “Final Destination”, created by 82-year-old Holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel is shown in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry represents the time of Strobel imprisoned in a Nazi camp. The Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County organized an exhibition of Strobel’s tapestries. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Detail of a tapestry by Trudie Strobel depicting a Nazi soldier taking his doll. Some of Strobel’s tapestries are on display at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Debbie Meline, Director of Jewish Education and of the Center for Jewish Life, holds the book “Stitched & Sewn: The Life-Saving Art of Holocaust Survivor Trudie Strobel”, next to a large tapestry titled “1942” by 82-year-old – old holocaust survivor Trudie Strobel in Irvine on Wednesday, December 30, 2020. The tapestry depicts a Nazi taking his doll. The photo shows Strobel as a child holding the doll that was taken from him. Strobel’s tapestries are on display at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)

The merger led to the art exhibition “A Life in Tapestry,” which chronicles Strobel’s Jewish history and Holocaust remembrances through his intricately detailed tapestries.

Organized by Lila Dworsky-Hickey and Maya Savin Miller, 18-year-old Pasadena residents, “A Life in Tapestry” is on display in the Slutzky Art Gallery at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Irvine.

“I am such a lucky person to have been able to do this and find comfort,” Strobel said. “In fact, I am very touched, but I am also proud. In my mind, it goes together.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, “A Life in Tapestry” is not yet open to the general public, there are hopes that this will change in the coming months.

The exhibit has previously been shown at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena and is for the first time in Orange County.

“When we found out about this project, when we found out it was a new way to throw one at our center,” said Debbie Meline, director of Jewish education at the center.

For decades, Strobel couldn’t bring himself to talk about being a young child in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

After a long period of depression that culminated in complete blackout around 30 years ago, a therapist suggested that Strobel share his experiences through his art.

Strobel combined his drawing and needlework skills and began creating tapestries, dozens of them, depicting virtually all of Jewish history before and including the Holocaust.

However, only close friends and family members of Strobel saw them.

Enter Miller and Hickey.

Miller was 12 and was researching her bat mitzvah project, which eventually led her to Strobel and his tapestries.

“I walked into Trudie’s house without expecting anything,” recalls Miller, now in his final year at Pasadena Polytechnic. “His house is like a museum. I knew from that first meeting that Trudie’s story and the artwork had to be shared with the world.

Three years later, Miller heard about the Dragon Kim Foundation, created by the parents of Dragon Kim, a 14-year-old musician when he was killed by a falling tree branch while camping in Yosemite.

The Kim’s, who are residents of Tustin, created a scholarship to help creative high school students with vision to make positive change in their communities.

Hickey and Miller were selected for a scholarship and received $ 5,000 and mentorship to organize an exhibition of Strobel tapestries.

“At a time when it felt like the nation was becoming more and more polarized, we thought we needed to remember what led to the Holocaust: intolerance, racism, people unwilling to speak out against injustices in their society, ”said Grace Kim, Dragon Kim’s mother. “Trudie’s story of surviving the Holocaust was an important story that needed to be told, so that we did not repeat the horrific mistakes made during that time. “

Having his tapestries on display to the public is an honor, said Strobel, who thanks Miller and Hickey and the Dragon Kim Foundation for making this possible.

“When I finished a track I always thought it wouldn’t be good if more people could see it, never thinking that would happen to me until I met this wonderful Miller family with Maya and his interest, “said Strobel. “She was really determined to have my work shown. Having it in your head to want to do something like that is really amazing. “

In the largest and arguably the most graphic tapestry in the exhibition, “Final Destination”, Strobel illustrates his memories of being imprisoned in a Nazi camp.

Rows of dark-faced women crammed into barracks are depicted in one part of the room and charred bodies in an oven in another section.

The tapestry is lined with white flowers on a barbed vine.

“This piece is amazing and I think it is a piece of history and honestly a gift for my generation and future generations who will not live alongside the Holocaust survivors who can hear the story of Trudie through her art, ”Miller said. “I just think it’s so important to preserve this story and serves as a reminder of both the dangers of intolerance and the healing powers of art.”


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