top of page
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn

034~ The Bigger-Picture project just got bigger!

2022 I was introduced to Christof Pies, a man who has dedicated his life to uncovering and documenting the past existence of the Jewish population in his region, the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis area of western Germany.

Christof Pies, born in 1948, grew up amidst the lingering aftermath of World War II.

In a region where discussions of wartime experiences were often avoided.

Interesting for me to note that during the same time, the Holocaust survivors in Israel kept their story to themselves, and even though for the opposite reason, still- it yielded the same result exactly- lack of discussion!

Pies found inspiration in Heinrich Studentkowski, a teacher willing to confront the atrocities of the Nazi era, mention them and discuss them openly. It was under Studentkowski's guidance that Pies developed a deep interest in the history of Jews in Germany, the Holocaust, and the war. In a culture of silence, he found a mentor who challenged the prevailing narrative and encouraged critical thinking, perhaps that kind of education and the way I use photography as a tool for discussion is the bridge on which we could meet, and he decided to take the great leap of faith with me, marking the beginning of our connection.

Together with The Laufersweiler's friends community, Pies embarked on an extraordinary endeavor. They renovated the Kristallnacht ruins of a Synagogue to become the Laufersweiler synagogue and a remarkable educational center it has turned to today. They even found the original Keystone which used to be above the synagogue entrance circa 1962. Repositioning it was a beautiful symbolic act to honor the victims of the painful past.

The Keystone discovered with a pile of tombs circa 1966 photo courtesy of Laufersweiler Synagogue archives

Laufersweiler Synagogue education center today

Later on his colleague Carolin Manns joined the educational center and with the assistance of the Obermayer family, their tireless efforts aimed at preserving fading memories while nurturing hope for a better future have turned the synagogue into a vibrant learning center, with a very impressive, jaw dropping extensive archive of documents, testimonials, and objects from ex-local families affected by the Holocaust—those who perished and those who managed to escape.

In addition to this vital work, they have created a beautiful study space offering day and night cultural activities, including music performances, lectures, and debates—a truly inspiring initiative!

I was getting hooked!

Their ongoing activities can be followed on their website:

When I proposed tailoring my workshop to suit their needs, I had so much materials and ideas which were gushing out with bursting excitement - I have been waiting for this opportunity for so long -I really wanted this to happen!

I was determined to ensure a captivating experience. I meticulously prepared a range of options, activities, and stories, anticipating every possible scenario. A friend's reminder about the weather in Germany during January prompted me to include indoor activities as well.

It took me six weeks after the tumultuous events of October 7th to recognize that relying on the current government for a brighter future was futile. With some trepidation about discussing such matters in such turbulent times, I eventually mustered the courage to reach out to Christof. His response was reassuringly affirmative: "Get that ticket—you're confirmed for January..." OMG!

Tt was finally actualising! From my diary papers and documented sketches - into real life!

Real names, places and stories, which suddenly became vivid more than ever - it was happening.

My excitement exceeded my anxiety only by a bit !

With wheels now in motion, amidst the dissonance and turmoil, in Israel and around, there was finally something exciting to look forward to!

My new logo design by the talented Neta Holzer

Mein Workshop ist hier! :D

Or as Google translated it...:

There are numerous traces of this in Rhineland-Palatinate once rich Jewish life.

Partly hidden and superimposed, changed or destroyed by time, save and preserve history.

Can pictures make these visible again?

These and other questions are the starting point of a two-day workshop

with the Israeli photo artist Allon Zaslansky.

Allon Zaslansky studied at the Hadassah College for Technology in Jerusalem,

teaches photography and uses this medium to talk to young people about personal and social issues such as foreignness, conflict, Identity or even the Holocaust comes into the conversation.

In the workshop, students learn basic rules of photography and image composition with their own smartphones.

The intense confrontation along with the image theme, provides an impetus for reflection on the content our German-Jewish past.

The developed results are discussed together and then presented in an exhibition.

11 views0 comments


bottom of page