A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul” in Montreal

Visiting Professor Frank Chalk, Department of History Concordia University, Montreal QC, Canada

“…there´s a not inconsiderable Canadian connection in both my personal and professional life…” — Paul A. Levine, Summer 2018.

After special trip to New York – Levine‘s city of birth – Tevat Paul moved further, hexagonally dissecting the expanses of the “heavenly ocean” on the small Embraer aircraft, direction Montreal, to meet Professor Frank Chalk at Concordia University.

Professor of History and Research Director at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University, Prof. Dr. Frank Chalk was Paul Levine’s mentor and colleague for several decades. On the tenth floor of the Library Building, seated in his History Department office, overlooking Montreal Downtown West from a bird’s eye view, Professor Chalk shared his memories of meetings with Paul Levine.

At this picture the Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“  lays in hands of Prof. Dr. Frank Chalk; in Professor's office, Department of History Concordia University, Montreal QC, Canada.
A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“ meets Prof. Dr. Frank Chalk, Department of History Concordia University, Montreal QC, Canada. Series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “RESPONSIBLE IRRESPONSIBILITY – Paul A. Levine”.

“Over the years, we have met and exchanged ideas several times starting with my visit to Uppsala University in the late 1990s to participate in a teacher training program, followed by discussions during a training program for mid-level foreign affairs officials organized by the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation in Poland in 2012, and, most recently, at the Armenian Government conference on genocide prevention in Yerevan in April 2016…”.

“Dr. Levine is one of those rare research scholars who thinks deeply and seriously about what we teach and how we teach it. In publication after publication and talk after talk, he probes what changes happen in the classroom when we teach about the Shoah in different nations and cultural contexts, how the recent emphasis on the memory of the Holocaust affects the facts we emphasize or ignore, and what lessons the Holocaust might teach us that would inform our responses to identity politics….”
– Chalk, Frank, 2016.

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“ visited Prof. Dr. Frank Chalk, Department of History Concordia University, Montreal QC, Canada. Series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “RESPONSIBLE IRRESPONSIBILITY – Paul A. Levine”.

Professor Chalk asked detailed questions about both the Tevat Paul project and the Initiative itself, showing high interest and great participation, expressing the warmest wishes for success.

Thanks for the cookies, Professor Chalk, and for the heartfelt welcome.

With the beginning of summer 2022, the very first journey of the Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul was nearing its successful conclusion. The way forward takes us back home, to Berlin. Just as wars finally end with negotiations, so travels end with the way home. And the first journey that has come to an end clears the way for the next one… Maybe Sweden or Israel? England, Hungary? – Who knows…

Do you too feel connected to Professor Paul A. Levine and his work, and would you like to meet Tevat Paul, a Traveling Tombstone dedicated to the star-historian as well?

Drop me a note 📩  @CONTACT and let us schedule a meeting.

Yours,
Elena Medvedev – I’m from Ukraine! 🇺🇦

👉 Read more about the project “A Traveling Tombstone” dedicated to
the Holocaust historian Paul A. Levine

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“Tevat Paul” – visiting New York

In May 2022, Tevat Paul visited a few places in and near New York City connected to Levine’s life-story.

In 1956, the second son of four children, Paul A. Levine was born in New York City; he later admitted some “…dim memories from painfully musty Brighton Beach/Brooklyn apartments… …thinking and feeling Grandpa Levine, who took care of me and always brought fresh borscht to NJ.” (Levine, 2019.)

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“ in New York; series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”. 2022.

It was 1964 or early 1965, in Emerson NJ, when two Jewish-American boys – Paul and Ric – on their daily walk to school and back walked along the Main Street, passed by the Armenian nursing home every day. Nearby, 500 meters east, on Elmwood Drive, was the home of their family. Paul was then a seven-year-old child and did not understand that he was observing Armenians who survived the genocide [1].

In 2019, Levine was the narrator of the film “The American Samaritans”, the film that reports about him traveling in the US, working for the project about the Armenian Genocide. [2]

[1] From Levine’s correspondence, April 2019, Paul A. Levine Library.
[2] The Armenian Mirror Spectator, 10. October 2019, New Film on Armenian Genocide Will Depict American Help to Suffering Armenians, by Nahapetyan, H.

[3] Levine, P. A., 7th Annual Hugo Valentin Lecturer, Introduction of Prof. Omer Bartov, 10 March 2009.

"1994- 1996: Rutgers University, Department of History, adjunct lecturer. Taught courses in history of the Holocaust, history methods and modern European history.
1994- 1996: Rutgers University, Director, The Raoul Wallenberg Professorship in Human Rights. Responsibilities included fundraising, development of Holocaust educational outreach programs for teachers, organizing public lectures and academic conferences, etc.
1992- 1993: Rutgers University, Department of History-- Visiting Lecturer & Fellow, The Raoul Wallenberg Professorship in Human Rights"
– Levine's Academic Employment and Positions. From CV, March, 2019.

"...I have known Dr. Levine's work since ... when he held the Raoul Wallenberg Professorship in Human Rights at Rutgers University." – Frank Chalk, 2016.


“Dr. Levine is well known and highly respected by scholars studying the Shoah and the history of genocide for his pioneering scientific research on Raoul Wallenberg’s role in Hungary; for his great achievement in co-authoring the most widely circulated and extensively translated popular history of the Holocaust, Tell Ye Your Children; and for his effective and energetic role as a public intellectual confronting the themes of rescue and by-standing during the Holocaust….” – Chalk, Frank, 2016.

On my way to the Montreal Institute for Genocide & Human Rights Studies, Concordia University,
to meet Professor Frank Chalk, I’ll talk to you soon..

Do you too feel connected to Professor Paul A. Levine and his work, and would you like to meet Tevat Paul, a Traveling Tombstone dedicated to the star-historian as well?

Drop me a note 📩  @CONTACT and let us schedule a meeting.

Yours,
Elena Medvedev


“Tell Ye Your Children” is 25

“Today, the need for effectively taught and historically accurate Holocaust education is greater than ever. This is true for many reasons central to our lives, and for the future of our children. Though this epochal tragedy occurred in Europe, it is impossible to understand our globalized world today without understanding the basics of Holocaust history … Continue reading

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Paul A. Levine Library - The Student Initiative

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A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul”: visiting Boston & Cambridge, MA

“I will soon be in Boston for a documentary film about the Armenian Genocide that I ́ve been asked to participate in.” – Paul A. Levine, correspondence, April 2019.

“… our visit to the Boston Public Library was of even more personal interest to me because of Irwin [Hoffman][1].” – Paul A. Levine, correspondence, April 2019.

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“, series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”.

Visiting Boston & Cambridge MA

As easily as Tevat Paul turned all its six diabas-facets towards the United States, not needing a visa as such, it once again attracted much attention from the authorities on both sides, crossing the next border in a mesmerizing flight over the lakes of New England.

The Tevat Paul sculpture, accompanied by the author of these lines, has arrived at its destination: on a sunny day…

Paul Levine arrived in Boston in September 2019, on his last business trip to the United States. On that trip for the last time, he should have met his relatives living in the area[2]

…Quite unique was, that in Boston–as was discovered several years ago–a part of my own family has been found, the “lost family tribe”, the branch of the family disconnected since World War II. Being on the road with the Tevat Paul project, currently on the North American continent, I received an invaluable gift for Pesach Sameach: the opportunity to meet my “lost” family. And so, I did!

My grandmother’s niece, Ninotchka, born in Lviv in 1939, who survived WW2 as a child (in her book I will later learn the history of her parents and siblings during and after the war), and her mishpucha shared with me family warmth, and a memorable Pesach Seder evening, which I was fortunate to be a part of. Our gathering was not only imbued with love of family, but it also became a source of new ideas and meetings in connection with the project.

The meeting with Professor Omer Bartov, in Cambridge MA, and my introduction of the project Tevat Paul to him, was truly the icing on the cake of my trip to Boston. Historian Omer Bartov was one of the first to support the initiative. Also, together with Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Bartov participated in the memorial international meeting dedicated to Levine in 2020, where the historians contributed their names and talks to the idea of ​​the Initiative “Paul A. Levine Library”. Now, for the hexahedral sculpture Tevat Paul to be held in the hands of the historian and friend Omer Bartov is highly symbolic.

I express heartfelt thanks to everyone who made these two significant meetings possible, and with deep gratitude provide several photographs capturing some historical moments.

Do you too feel connected to Professor Paul A. Levine and his work, and would you like to meet Tevat Paul, a Traveling Tombstone dedicated to the star-historian as well?

Drop me a note 📩  @CONTACT and let us schedule a meeting.

Yours,
Elena Medvedev

Tevat Paul – A Traveling Tombstone – visiting Boston and Cambridge MA, 2022.

Footnotes:
[1] The American painter Irwin D. Hoffman, who was related to Paul A. Levine, sent, as some believe, to General Israel Orphans Home for Girls in Jerusalem "a violin each year and bequeathed money for an auditorium in his mom's name and the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston…"
"My mother gave me several of his [Hoffman] etchings... which are achingly beautiful…” – From Levine’s correspondence, April 2019, Paul A. Levine Library.
[2] Meeting the president of Latvia Vikes-Freibergas at the release of the Latvian translation of “Tell Ye Your Children”, in 2001, and giving his talk in a magnificent room in Riga, Levine spoke about his grandfather and grandfather’s brothers departing Riga and arriving on the Chelsea Boston docks. – Levine, P. A., notes summer 2018.

Read more

“Forward and don’t forget”

W E B I N A R – 7.12.2020 ✿ IN MEMORY OF PAUL A. LEVINE Forward and Don’t Forget: Writing & Teaching About The Holocaust Today THE WEBINAR IS organized by: Elena Medvedev, INITIATOR, The Initiative Paul A. Levine Library.

SAVE THE DATE

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE – WEBINAR 2020 Forward and Don’t Forget: Writing & Teaching About The Holocaust Today ✿ IN MEMORY OF PAUL A. LEVINE December, 7, 2020, 17:00 CET (11 AM EST)Zoom-based DOWNLOAD POSTER Please plan on joining us online for an especially interesting talk. This will be the first webinar program organized by The Initiative. … Continue reading

Why join us?

Learn more about the Initiative “Paul A. Levine Library”: “Who are we? What are we doing? What are our goals?” – a short intro answers these basic questions. Continue reading


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A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul” arrived in Canada

“…there´s a not inconsiderable Canadian connection in both my personal and professional life…” — Paul A. Levine, Summer 2018.

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“ in Toronto; series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”. Photo credits: Amir Gavriely. 2022.

The first stop on this unique journey of A Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul is Toronto, Canada, a country that, according to historian Paul A. Levine, was of great importance in his life.

👉 A Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul made its first city tour, posing in a number of prominent and lesser-known urban locations. This sculpture is a project in collaboration with sculptor Robert Schmidt-Matt and the initiative “Paul A. Levine Library”.

Here, in downtown Toronto, a long-awaited meeting with activists of the initiative Nataly Khazin and Amir Gavriely took place recently.

Israeli-Canadian photographer Amir Gavriely captured some moments of our meeting and also his impressions of meeting the sculpture Tevat Paul live, perfectly fitting it into the architectural context of the North American metropolis. An important detail: we owe this wonderful and meaningful name of the sculpture to Amir, who suggested the name Tevat Paul. Indeed, what a great idea!

Now then: see & admire Tevat Paul in Toronto.

See A Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul – few more impressions

On my way to Boston and Cambridge, I’ll talk to you soon.

Yours,
Elena Medvedev


Paul A. Levine Library - The Student Initiative

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A Traveling Tombstone – the sculpture “Tevat Paul” in memory of Paul A. Levine

A project in collaboration with sculptor Robert Schmidt-Matt and the initiative “Paul A. Levine Library”

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“; series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas, 10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”. Photo credits: Ronen Khazin.

We remember with reverence and love.” — Hasia R. Dinner

Introduction

👉  See also Tevat Paul on travel.

We, the Initiative “Paul A. Levin Library” along with sculptor Robert Schmidt-Matt, are launching the Traveling Tombstone project, a natural stone (Diabas) sculpture commemorating Holocaust historian Paul A. Levine, with his epitaph carved into it:

“Responsible Irresponsibility. Paul A. Levine”

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“; Photo credits: Ronen Khazin.

Paul A. Levine was buried in a collective grave—this fact multiplies the sorrow of many people who knew the star historian. At this sorrowful moment, some students, scholars, and friends have been united by the question “why?”. The initiative “Paul A. Levine Library” was born and is since then constantly working on several projects, each of which turns to a memorial to Levine’s name, a memorial of a different kind.

A Traveling Tombstone is both an artistic challenge and a pragmatic attempt to find a solution, after two years of dealing with the thorny question that has surrounded the Holocaust historian who died in 2019: when the place of burial is collective – where, then, is Levine’s own grave?

The burial site for historian Paul A. Levine: a collective grave at the edge of the cemetery road

In the last six years of his life the prominent Holocaust historian Paul A. Levine[1] lived and researched in Berlin. Here, in Berlin, he wanted to be buried and known; Levine wished a tombstone for his last resting place. For an inscription on it he left his wording, an afterglow in the form of the oxymoron “Responsible Irresponsibility” (a rhetorical figure), and this fact was well known to those around him.

But for unknown reasons his wish was denied, and the unimaginable became reality: the Jewish-American-Swedish Holocaust historian was buried in a “collective grave” on the edge of an inner cemetery road. At the same time, his archive was abandoned to fate. This thoughtlessness had irreversible consequences and precluded any possibility of fulfilling Professor Levine’s will to erect a tombstone with his personally prepared words. His idea of an individual tombstone was thus destroyed.

How do we respond to such Irretrievable Destruction? In which culture of remembrance do we find the grounds that make it possible to separate locality?


[1] Dr. Paul A. Levine, the pre-eminent thinker and educator, was a longtime associate professor of Holocaust history and genocide studies in Sweden, Uppsala University. He has lived his final six years as a freelance consulting historian in Berlin, his favorite city. Levine repeatedly emphasized his desire to die and be buried in Berlin – the city that was close to his heart and central to his research; the “Belle & the Beast”, as he called Berlin with love and sympathy. Paul Levine’s numerous publications include the award-winning “Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest; Myth, History and Holocaust” (Levine, 1996) and “Tell Ye Your Children; a book about the Holocaust in Europe 1933-1945” (Bruchfeld, Levine 1998). Levine worked on memoirs in his last years; they would include teachers’ guides on how to think and teach about the Holocaust and genocide in a progressive and humanistic way. See also in: IHRA, In Memory of Holocaust Scholar Paul Levine, 4.11.2019, https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/news-archive/memory-holocaust-scholar-paul-levine.


The answer seemed self-evident – we transform a senseless act into a meaningful memorial: a Traveling Tombstone!

A Traveling Tombstone – the idea

Inspired by Daniel Boyarin from his book “A Traveling Homeland”[2], the answer was found (obvious for a student of Jewish Studies): if a homeland can travel as a concept, then, under certain circumstances, a monument/tombstone could travel as well.

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“; series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas,
10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”. Photo credits: Ronen Khazin.

In an attempt to resolve these questions, motivated by fatal thoughtlessness, the Student Initiative Paul A. Levine Library was initiated, saving the historian’s archival materials and his library and taking care of Levine’s memory.

Based on these considerations, but above all to fulfill the last wish of the Jewish-American-Swedish historian, the idea of a Traveling Tombstone was created. On the one hand, the new concept should illuminate the idea of the monument from a different perspective. Moreover, the memory of Paul A. Levine would be carved in stone, as he wished, with his own last words.

The search for a solution brought together the Initiative and Robert Schmidt-Matt, an artist working in Kreuzberg, Berlin. A special detail – the core idea in all his works – is the integrity of the parts and their simultaneous inseparability. His way of dealing with contradiction was highly convincing when his sculptures, full of dialectics, appeared before the observer. Through the inseparability and simultaneous integrity of the opposing parts in the Berlin sculptor’s art, the most important basic law of dialectics, the essence of dialectic contradiction, becomes visible: the unity and the struggle of opposites, which is obviously also hidden in Levine’s message.

A Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul. Diabas 10 x 10 x 12. Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt.

“Responsible Irresponsibility” is a seemingly irrational message that might want to give us the basic idea about life and history: The history of mankind, like life itself, is anything but rational – both are full of contradictions.


[2] Professor of Talmudic Culture, historian and philosopher of religion Daniel Boyarin argues that Jews carry their homeland with them into the diaspora in the form of textual community built around the study of the Talmud. In: Boyarin, Daniel, A Traveling Homeland, 2015.


Tevat Paul – “Ark Paul”

The sculpture bears the Hebrew name Tevat Paul (תיבת פול – Ark Paul) and is a memorial stone that can be placed anywhere, consisting of two inseparable parts.

A Traveling Tombstone “Tevat Paul“; series: “Zweisam”; Sculptor: Robert Schmidt-Matt. Material: Diabas,
10 x 10 x 12 cm. Engraved: “Responsible irresponsibility – Paul A. Levine”. Photo credits: Ronen Khazin.

In this way, the Jewish culture of remembrance is linked, which enables a separation of location-specificity: indeed, if a homeland can travel as a concept, then a tombstone can, under certain circumstances, also travel.

Dedicated to the Holocaust historian in 2021, Tevat Paul is sculpture No. 5 from the existing series Zweisam by the Berlin artist. It is the first sculpture that opens the proposed new series, Traveling Tombstone, in memory of Paul A. Levine.

Today, the traveling tombstone Tevat Paul is on its way traveling; and it has an interesting route to explore and people to meet.

A Traveling Tombstone Tevat Paul on board. March, 2022.

In the time of global catastrophe, when the humanity in people is in demand in a way it hasn’t been for a long time, we appeal to empathy, solidarity, and activism. Ironically, it is exactly these values ​​ that were the main subject of investigation in studies by Professor Levine, who spend his career and life researching and teaching about individual and social indifference and activism, about empathy, ignorance, and solidarity. And it is precisely these values ​​that have become decisive for Levine`s personal history today, in times of war in Ukraine – the heart of Europe, as well as during these pandemic times that humanity is still going through.

Our goal is to present the Traveling Tombstone, Tevat Paul, as a piece of art and a concept in different places, to visit our partners, to find new friends and further support.

The Initiative Paul A. Levine Library invites you to support the project A Traveling Tombstone.

👉  See also Tevat Paul on travel.

Yours,
Elena Medvedev

Sources:
– IHRA (The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), News, In Memory of Holocaust Scholar Paul Levine, 04.11.2019, https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/news-archive/memory-holocaust-scholar-paul-levine.
– Forum För Levande Historia, Om Detta Må Ni Berätta, https://www.levandehistoria.se/material/om-detta-ma-ni-beratta.
– Levine, Paul A., Burchfield, Stephane, Tell Ye Your Children. A book about the Holocaust in Europe 1933-1945, The Living History Forum, 1998.
– Levine, Paul A. (Editor), The Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Uppsala University, 1998-2007, Accomplishments and Goals, The Uppsala University Newsletter, Spring 2007.
– Boyarin, Daniel, A Traveling Homeland, 2015.
*Levine P. A., The Berlin History Education Initiative, Draft Memorandum—February 2018.
– Levine, Paul A., 27.05.2019. From Levine’s correspondence.

👉 For our followers on FB: see regarded posts on
👉 #omdettamåniberätta, & #paullevine.


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