Yuri Dojc, a Canadian photographer born in Slovakia, photographed abandoned prayer books in his family’s ancestral village, where he uncovered a life the Nazis destroyed and his relatives refused to discuss
Entering the Last Folio exhibit of photographs at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, visitors are greeted by stares. These are the weary, aged faces of Slovakia’s remaining Holocaust survivors, whom Slovakian-born photographer Yuri Dojc began documenting in the late 1990s. Most are no longer alive.
Dojc, a commercial photographer who has lived in Canada since his family left Slovakia in 1968, returned to visit several towns, including his family’s onetime home, where he learned about the fate of its Jews during the Holocaust, a history his relatives refused to talk about. Dojc’s project shifted with the discovery, during a trip to Slovakia to interview survivors, of abandoned prayer books in long-empty synagogues and schoolhouses that had gone untouched since the Nazis deported Slovakia’s Jews to concentration camps.
The photography exhibit, which opened this week, moves from the hallway of portraits into a light-filled, six-sided room featuring breathtaking images of prayer books in various stages of physical decay and sustaining damage far greater than the wear and tear of everyday use. Katya Krausova, a London-based filmmaker, traveled with Dojc through Slovakia and her documentary plays in the exhibition space.
The layout of the exhibit reflects the genesis of the project and Dojc’s personal journey—the pair discovered a prayer book belonging to Dojc’s grandfather, whom he never met, among the unearthed volumes. The books star in the photographs, commanding attention while revealing layer after layer of abandonment by society and destruction by nature. Yet Dojc believes these books—and all books, for that matter—possess an enchanting, transcending quality. The photographs are about beauty and decay, he explained before the exhibit’s opening: “beauty in decay.”
A once-thriving congregation in Greenville, Miss., now can barely gather a minyan on Shabbat, but it’s managed to keep a popular tradition—a deli-luncheon fundraiser—alive for nearly 130 years
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.