Ellie Wiesel – professor, author, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. Long before he was any of those things, though, he was a big brother. His little sister, Tzipora, was only three years old in 1940 when Ellie and his Romanian-Jewish family were forced into a Hungarian ghetto. Between May 15 and July 9 of 1944, 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary- among them, Elie, his parents, his two older sisters, and little Tzipora. She and her mother were gassed on arrival at Auschwitz, and his father was later beaten to death. Elie and his two older sisters would live to see liberation, and he would go on to become the author of Night and the most well known face of Holocaust remembrance.
You must surely be wondering about Tzipora’s portrait… hers is the only one of my drawings that has ever gotten damaged, and I wrestled for months and months about what to do with the torn pieces. I can’t bear the thought of throwing one of the children away; the symbolism is just too much for me. So, I ran across an article about Kintsugi. It is a Japanese art in which gold is used to repair damaged porcelain. It began many centuries ago when a warlord commanded that a broken cup be repaired. When the cup was returned, it was clumsily repaired with a staple, and while usable, it was poorly done. The warlord commanded that the piece be repaired again, this time in a way that would honor its original beauty and value. The result was the use of gold, and a new art form was inadvertently born. And so I repaired little Tziporah with gold leaf, and she is now one of a kind in all the world. Of course, Elie knew that long ago.