"Spots of Light: To be a Woman in the Holocaust" opened this week at the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.
The exhibit is part of a traveling exhibit from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
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Spots of Light: To be a Woman in the HolocaustWhen: Now through Tuesday, Sept. 6
Where: The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Tickets: General admission $12; $8 for seniors and students; $6 for children
More information: ilholocaustmuseum.org
"The exhibit brings to life the absurd realities of femininity and mothering being practiced in the most horrid of circumstances," said Yehudit Shendar, of Yad Vashem.
The exhibit also focuses on art created by women while they were in the camps. "The Nazis tried to paint Jews as subhuman creatures, and subhuman creatures can't create," Shendar said. "Creating in destruction is not an oxymoron; it is the most beautiful defiance."
Arielle Weininger, curator of collections at the museum, is particularly fond of a picture of Helen Ryba, who survived a 13-week walk to a camp near Leipzig. At the end, she was 80 pounds. A year later, a picture was snapped of her in sassy pose, looking very lush and curvaceous in a bikini at a displaced person's camp.
The exhibit, which opened Friday, includes works of art, a video installation, heirlooms and artifacts that tell the story of how women prevailed during the long, grueling war that killed more than 2 million women.
"Females are females. Whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, all are strong with a wonderful ability to adapt to circumstances," Shendar said. "Jewish women were systematically robbed of their essential aspects of being feminine. ... (This exhibit) re-creates images of when they were beautiful females."
The exhibit runs through the first week of September.