Samuel Bak's first art exhibit was in the Vilna ghetto when he was 9 years old. While the Nazis killed 75,000 Vilna residents, he and his mother emerged as just two of 200 survivors.
Some of that young boy's artwork, which depicted a culture that once was called "the Jerusalem of Lithuania," has survived the 20th century and can be found in the Lithuanian capital's Jewish museum. But Bak's storied 45-year career in painting also brings more than 40 of his works to Los Angeles for the two-month "Between Worlds" exhibit at the Finegood Gallery at the New Jewish Community Center at Milken in West Hills.
It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed. Almost one year ago to the day, Dr. David Appelbaum and his daughter, Nava, were murdered when a suicide bomber exploded himself at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem. Dr. Appelbaum, 50, was the head of emergency medicine at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, and was a rabbinical scholar to boot. He had treated countless victims of terror, Jewish and Arab patients alike. Nava, 20, was to be wed the next day. Alas, she never made it to her chuppah.
These are painful memories that we are tempted to shelve into the recesses of our distant memories. Yet we dare not, just as we dare not forget the holy martyrs of the Shoah and all other martyrs of our people's past.