Exhibition at UT Brings Polish Town to Life

KNOXVILLE — The 600-year history of the Jewish community of Luboml, which was destroyed and buried by Nazis, is brought to life in a traveling exhibition visiting the University of Tennessee.

“Remembering Luboml: Images of a Jewish Community” is on display at UT’s University Center through April 19 as part of the East Tennessee Holocaust Conference, “Our Town: Lost But Not Forgotten.”

Dr. Gilya Schmidt, a UT religious studies professor who organized the conference, said the photographs, documents and artifacts recreate a swatch of life from this Polish market town.

“The worlds of modernization and tradition existed side by side in this village of 4,000 Jews and some 3,000 Poles and Ukrainians,” Schmidt said. “The Luboml exhibit puts a human face on the world’s loss and highlights the goal of our conference to retrieve the beauty of such lost communities.”

The Luboml Exhibition Project was started in 1994 by Aaron Ziegelman, a New York businessman and philanthropist who at age nine moved to America with his widowed mother and sister in 1938.

“He initiated the project to preserve the memory of his hometown, to give face and voice to the townspeople of his youth,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said the project contains nearly 2,000 photographs and artifacts from around the world. It includes rare Luboml postage stamps in Yiddish, German, Polish and Ukrainian, and silver Kiddish cups that had been hastily buried and hidden from German soldiers.

The exhibit also contains rare home movie footage of Luboml taken by a visiting American in 1933 and videotapes of Lubomlers reflecting on memories of their town.

“People were delighted to participate in our collection effort,” said Fred Wasserman, curator and the founding director of the Luboml Exhibition Project. “The Lubomlers and especially their children and grandchildren, cared deeply about the preservation of the history and memory of their shtetl (market town).”

Only 51 of 4,000 Jews in Luboml survived the Holocaust, Schmidt said. Most relocated to the United States or Israel, but the Luboml Exhibition Project now has located Lubomlers in Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil, she said.

In 1975, emigres and survivors of Luboml published the “Yizkor Book of Luboml,” a compilation of memoirs and essays in Hebrew and Yiddish. The English translation, recently published by Ktav, is titled “Luboml: The Memorial Book of a Vanished Shtetl.”

NOTE: Art is available. (865-974-8627)