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New York, NY (April 21, 2004) – From May 23 through August 15, 2004, Yeshiva University Museum is pleased to present Longing for the Sacred: Visual Memories of Destroyed Synagogues, an exhibition of paintings and stained glass models of synagogues destroyed in the Holocaust, by two European-born artists, Greta Schreyer and Felix Reisner.


At the outset of World War II, landscape painter Greta Schreyer fled her home in Vienna. Settling in New York City, she attempted to paint her new surroundings. But the trauma of losing both of her parents in concentration camps provoked her instead to begin painting scenes from memory of the Austrian countryside, where she and her mother had once felt so at home. Critic Regine Schmidt has written in a catalogue essay of Schreyer’s work: Her most authentic paintings show images of Austria in a dream-like, generalized and idealized kind of landscape vacuum Nightmarish depictions of empty houses in lonely landscapes under a pale moonlight give us an eerie glimpse into the abyss of [her] soul.” In the twelve child-like and mythic oil paintings on view at Yeshiva University Museum, Schreyer recreates from memory images ofthe Red Forest that hid partisans during the war, as well as six Polish and Russian synagogues that were destroyed.

Five stained glass synagogue models built by Felix Reisner, a self-taught stained glass artist living in Miami, complement the paintings. Born in 1919 in Warsaw, Poland, Reisner spent WW II fighting on the front lines against the Nazis and was granted asylum to come to the United States in 1950. Brought up in the knitting trade, it was only after he retired that Reisner took up making stained glass Tiffany-styled lamps and clocks. One evening, while conveying his emotional reaction to seeing the Great Synagogue in Warsaw in ruins after WW II, his family suggested he rebuild the synagogue in stained glass. On view at Yeshiva University Museum are replicas of five synagogues that were destroyed by the Nazis: Great Synagogue in Warsaw, Stara Synagogue in Lodz, Great Synagogue in Lodz, Great Synagogue of Danzig, and Frankfurt am Main Synagogue in Germany. Reisner’s models, built-to-scale, have detailed and lighted interiors.

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Since its founding in 1973, Yeshiva University Museum’s changing contemporary art and historical exhibits have celebrated the culturally diverse intellectual and artistic achievements of over 3,000 years of Jewish experience. In 2000, Yeshiva University Museum moved to the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York City, where it occupies four spacious galleries, a children’s workshop center, a docent room, and an outdoor sculpture garden. Other features of the building include a 250-seat auditorium, a shop, and the kosher Date Palm Cafe. Visit www.yumuseum.org for more information about Yeshiva University Museum.

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