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Through the Eye of a Needle

March 17, 2016

When Esther Nisenthal Krinitz was 15 years old in 1942, the Nazis ordered the Jews in her small Polish village to report to the train station for a journey they knew would take them to their deaths. But Esther was defiant, and with her mother’s blessing, she and her younger sister adopted new identities as Polish Catholic girls and found refuge in a village where people were willing to take them in without papers. Esther and her sister were the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust.

By the time she was 50 and living in Brooklyn, Krinitz was determined to bring to life her childhood experiences in a way that her daughters could see. There was just one problem: she didn’t know how to draw. She asked her daughters for help, but they knew it was their mother’s story to tell.

As a little girl, Krinitz had been an apprentice to a dressmaker and had a great gift for embroidery and sewing. She decided to experiment with a piece of fabric and recreated a picture of her childhood home in Poland. When she finished, Krinitz had found a way to tell her story through the eye of a needle.

Fabric of Survival: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, a collection of 36 fabric panels created and hand-stitched by Krinitz, tells the story of her life in Poland during World War II amid Nazi persecution and redemption in the United States. Employing different techniques of texture, from stitching to crocheting to embroidery, Krinitz’s self-taught, quilt-like panels bring her compelling story to life once again in memorable detail.

Thanks to help from FedEx, the exhibit will be on display at the Temple Israel Museum in Memphis from March 16 – May 13, 2016. The unique piece of history received expert care from the FedEx Custom Critical White Glove Services division on its journey From Washington, D.C. to Memphis. The cargo box of the truck maintained a steady temperature in order to ensure the fabric panels were protected and the truck was manned by drivers specially trained to handle precious cargo.

Fabric of Survival was created by Krinitz’s daughters, Bernice Steinhardt and Helene McQuade, through their non-profit, educational and charitable organization, Art & Remembrance (http://artandremembrance.org) whose mission is to use art and personal narrative to recognize individual courage and resilience, and to foster understanding and compassion for those who experience injustice.

  • Fabric of Survival

  • Fabric of Survival

  • Fabric of Survival

  • Fabric of Survival

  • Fabric of Survival

  • Fabric of Survival



Comments

    Lois Burnett says:

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the heartfelt stories and illustrations.

    Ira Hubert says:

    Remarkable and inspiring. Thank you for sharing Esther’s story. Like Esther, my father, Alexander Hubert, was also a holocaust survivor. When he was 13, he and his family were forced to leave the family home in Danzig, Germany (which is now Gdansk, Poland) and relocate to the Lodz (Poland) Ghetto. One year later, the Ghetto was closed and the residents were dispersed to numerous Nazi concentration camps. At 16, he was liberated by American troops. He was the only surviving member of his family. Eventually, he made his way to Brooklyn, (just like Esther), and started a new life. I will definitely visit the exhibit at Temple Israel.

    Shirley Gravenor says:

    I will attend. I am the daughter of a Polish Jewish father and a Polish Catholic woman, whose family saved members of my father’s family in Sandomierz, Poland. My Catholic grandparents have never been recognized for their bravery.

    Sarah Wilson says:

    Thank you for sharing their, and your, story. By your sharing they are being recognized and honored for their humainty, bravery and the generations to come they helped save. Thank you.

    Shuron Shelton says:

    Thanks for sharing. I share the natural talent of sewing, and find it amazing that the company that employs me, also supports my passion of ART!!!!!

    Cristina Barbosa says:

    Very touchy story described through the hands of a brave and talented woman. Congratulations for Esther’s daughthers who created the Art and Remembrance organization and for Tim Miller who made this story available for the Fedex employees.

    June Morgan says:

    What a wonderful story! She must have a remarkable talent AND memory! I am planning to make a visit to Temple Israel to see this exhibit. I plan to take my husband along, who has always been very interested in WWII history.

    Don Newberry says:

    Thank you so very much…I got to meet Cory Tenboon when I was young and her story as truely inspiring…

    Marco Hernandez says:

    What an incredible story! So proud that FedEx was able to be a part of this exhibition so that the story can live on and the history remain recorded. We can never forget.

    Lynna Helvey says:

    Thank you FedEx for honoring those who perished and the survivors of the Holocaust.

    Johnny Renfrow says:

    Thankyou for sharing your mothers Quilted story of life during WWII.I’m sure she spent many hours crafting each panel with her spirit and devotion thru the eye of that needle.As her dauhters each of you are very proud to have such a blessed mother.Have a GREAT exhibit in Memphis and trust Fedex to do an outstanding job transporting your treasures to and from. May God bless the exhibit and the wonderful story preserved in time by Esther Nisenthal .

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