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Ephemeral glowing stones to commemorate Holocaust across Netherlands

Project being installed in 150 cities ahead of Remembrance Day uses rocks, light and dark spaces to evoke loss and objects left on Jewish graves

Stones glowing in the "Light of Life" Holocaust memorial display of Daan Roosegaarde in the Netherlands. (Overijssel Viert Vrijheid)
Stones glowing in the "Light of Life" Holocaust memorial display of Daan Roosegaarde in the Netherlands. (Overijssel Viert Vrijheid)

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands (JTA) — A Dutch artist is installing a light display commemorating the Holocaust in 150 municipalities ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Daan Roosegaarde’s “Light of Life” project features dark spaces with stones that light up briefly.

Roosegaarde chose the theme of stones because Jewish custom is to place them on the headstones of their loved ones, the GIC news site reported.

In 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day because that was the day the Red Army liberated Auschwitz. This year’s anniversary is the 75th since liberation.

The display lights the stones up for a few seconds at a time, “symbolizing, like breaths in the dark, the lives taken away from the community,” Roosegaarde is quoted as saying.

The display will be installed in various museums and public spaces, including the synagogue in Groningen in the country’s north. Once home to several vibrant provincial communities, the north of the Netherlands saw some of the most methodical roundups of Jews, which obliterated those congregations to this day. Of Groningen’s nearly 3,000 Jewish residents before the Holocaust, only 150, or five percent, survived the genocide, according to the Volkskrant newspaper.

The Groningen Synagogue operates nowadays as a museum with a gift shop and functions only rarely as a place of worship.

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