They Called Him Meyer July - Poem by gershon hepner
They called him Mayer and July,
in Poland, though July became
for him quite obsolete, this name
changed into Kirschenblatt. Here’s why
we ought still to remember Mayer.
As Kirschenblatt, and born in Apt,
the place which in old age he mapped
with an artistic, frenzied fire,
he used to paint each street where he
grew up, before Apt was destroyed
by Nazis. It is not a void
today since he made sure we’d see
the place as it existed still
within his mind. More than Chagall,
he made sure it would not be null.
On paper, paint he used to spill
brought life back to the Jews we see
as if alive while in the mind
of those who have not left behind,
as he did not, their memory.
Jeffrey Shandler writes an obituary of Mayer Kirschenblatt who started painting scenes of his childhood home on his 50th wedding anniversary, at the age of 73 and lived in Canada since 1934. He recently died at the age of 93 not long after an exhibition of his art at the Jewish art, preserved in a book published in 2007, “They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust”.
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