Meijer Gardens to add Holocaust memorial in 2022

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A work of art memorializing the Holocaust will soon be installed at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park near Grand Rapids.

The Gardens announced Monday that it would buy Ways to Say Goodbye by Ariel Schlesinger through a donation from The Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids and the Pestka family, which is honoring late father and Holocaust survivor Henry Pestka.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is highly honored and very pleased to receive this significant and meaningful gift to acquire Ariel Schlesinger’s monumental sculpture Ways to Say Goodbye,” Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker said in a Monday statement. “The sculpture will be installed in 2022 and dedicated in memory of Henry Pestka and the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. We are deeply grateful for this gift adding such an important work of art to our permanent collection. Our members and guests will forever benefit from this extraordinary gift which will serve to educate and promote peace.”

Ways to Say Goodbye is a 20-foot aluminum cast of a fig tree adorned with shards of glass, representing the Jewish struggle for survival and the night of broken glass.

The Gardens says it will be the first Holocaust memorial in Grand Rapids.

“The memorial has important significance to my family because our father was a survivor,” said Linda Pestka said in a statement. “The numbers 73847 are numbers that we will never forget. They were tattooed to my father’s forearm, as though he were an animal, as identification for his potential death. It is our duty to educate, respect and honor the victims and their families of the unthinkable acts against life and morality. The Holocaust did happen. Holocaust deniers are reporting false and harmful information. Anti-Semitism and other hate crimes are on the rise. The Meijer Gardens Memorial sculpture will allow hundreds of thousands of people each year to become educated and aware of the atrocities against humanity. May we never forget.”

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