Bruce Gendelman in his studio with the work in progress.
Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife

This Holocaust Memorial by Artist Bruce Gendelman Is a Powerful Tribute in Palm Beach

Four years in the making, the structure was cast from 33,000 pounds of bronze and houses 5,000 ceramic butterflies painted by local school children

Gendelman Holocaust Childrens Memorial Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife

Last week, a new monument to honor the millions of children lost in the Holocaust was unveiled in West Palm Beach, Florida. The powerful and symbolic structure, titled the Gendelman Children’s Holocaust Memorial, was created by locally-based artist Bruce Gendelman and is one of the largest bronze sculptures in the country.

Based around the motif of a tree, the structure was created using more than 30,000 pounds of bronze, towering 27 feet tall and 26 feet wide. It features 5,000 ceramic butterflies hand-painted by Palm Beach County Public School District students, survivors, and community members.

“It’s a sculpture, it’s a piece of art, it’s a memorial to honor the 1.5 million children gassed in gas chambers,” Gendelman  said in a statement. “It is a symbol of what can happen when hate is allowed to fester.”

The massive undertaking took the artist more than four years to create, working with more than 200 craftsmen and engineers on the modeling, engineering, and casting processes. Each of the 347 pieces piece was individually cast using the lost-wax method, and then melded together on-site. There are 158 upper branches that were cut from a bronze plate.

Bruce Gendelmen. Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife

“The genesis for this began as we worked with the Palm Beach County Public School District as part of an international memorial making effort, The Butterfly Project, to honor the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust,” said Keith A. Myers, MorseLife’s president and CEO. “Bruce’s remarkable vision for this work inspired us to expand our Holocaust Learning Experience, which teaches the lessons of the Holocaust, beyond Palm Beach to where it is now available throughout Florida.”

A ceremony took place two days before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, and there were around 400 guests in attendance, including David S. Mack, chairman MorseLife Health System; Ambassador Michael B. Oren, the former Ambassador of Israel to the United States; James S. Snyder, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director at the Jewish Museum in New York city; and arts educator Allen Caucutt.

Gendelman Childrens Holocaust Memorial butterflies in the branches Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife

Details of the Butterflies. Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife

Gendelman has a multifaceted art practice, and his work has explored a variety of themes including landscape, landscape, portraiture, and the COVID pandemic in  painting, sculpture, photography, and installations. His Holocaust artworks have been shown at the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Detroit Michigan, and the Palac Sztuki in Krakow, Poland.

“I’m proud of the work,” Gendelman said. “I hope other people will look at it, and of course when you look at art, everyone sees something different, which is good.  Art is meant to evoke a response. I hope this evokes a feeling of hope for the future.”

Cover: Bruce Gendelman in his studio with the work in progress.
Photo: Courtesy of MorseLife


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