Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park just announced a major gift from The Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids in order to establish the first Holocaust memorial in Grand Rapids, anchored by Ariel Schlesinger’s Ways to Say Goodbye. This gift is made possible by a donation from the Pestka Family in memory of their father Henry, the survivors who settled in Western Michigan and the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

The gift will allow the gardens to acquire Ariel Schlesinger’s monumental sculpture Ways to Say Goodbye.

Ways to Say Goodbye is a twenty-foot-tall aluminum cast of a fig tree that has shards of glass inserted among the branches. It is an exceptional work of contemporary sculpture dealing with themes of profound loss and grief and will serve to memorialize the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivors of Western Michigan.

Meijer Gardens and the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids hope that the sculpture will become a gathering place for the Jewish community of Grand Rapids. The sculpture will be an excellent teaching tool for educators both locally and nationally to address the Holocaust and its legacy.

“As time goes on and memories of the Holocaust fade, it is important to remember the barbarity human beings are capable of,” said Steve Pestka. Linda Pestka said, “the memorial has important significance to my family because our father was a survivor. 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."

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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