The Frozen Moment

By Noah Botman.

Handwritten signs left on the railway track to Auschwitz. (Middle sign and Photograph by Noah Botman, April 2013)

Handwritten signs left on the railway track to Auschwitz. “For the 1900 of Rhodes Island; and the 151 who survived Hitler’s Evil.” (Middle sign and Photograph by Noah Botman, April 2013)

Although I had never been there and then, at that moment, that was exactly where I was. I stood there, locked in time, the tears still suspended in the air, inches beneath the battle hardened soldier’s red eyes. We had won and lost the war at the same time, for as we placed the flag in the hill, we realized it was not a hill of earth, but of corpses. Looking back on it, I will never forget the carnage. It was as if the most despicable evil was dredged from the darkest reaches of hell, right from Satan’s claws; and that evil was man. For looking at the hill, made of thousands of corpses, their arms interlocking in a festering pile of sin, I realized that there were thousands more hills, each with a flag, and each with crying soldiers. Many corpses walked, more skeleton than flesh. The skeletons huddled together, eyes deep and dry; their tears had been cried away, there was nothing that could harm them now, nothing they hadn’t been through. There were others there as well; demons dressed as men, and men dressed as demons. It would take a while before all the real men were out of their demon costumes, and then they would finally cry and beg silently for forgiveness, all while the real demons were finally sent back to the hellish pit they crawled out of. In that frozen moment of time, I looked to the sky, and saw a million brilliant eyes look down on me, wishing they could help, but stars and gods cannot sway the hearts of men or demons, no-matter their supposed power. I looked back down, to the walking skeletons, each also living in this frozen instant, with the look of sheep, not knowing anything except they must stay together, for that is where safety is. I rounded the skeletons up, and led them away. I led them east and south, to a land where the sun always shone, to a land where the seeds of life had just begun to grow among the ashes of death, to a land where skeletons were lions, lions men, and men strong enough to kill demons.

Please read the following Post for additional information about the Jews of Rhodes and the story of Noah’s relative, Laura Codron, who was one of the very few survivors of the Island’s Jewish community.

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On Religion and Bovine Scatology

(Copyright Michel Botman Photography, Jerusalem 2009).

“The flying Rabbi” (© Michel Botman Photography, Jerusalem 2009).

A few weeks ago, I was sent a joke by a Jewish friend of mine with whom I had had a rather challenging Shabbat dinner conversation on Judaic laws.

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March of the Living – Israel

Noah Botman and Toronto students, Massada, Israel April 2013 (The March of the Living)

Noah Botman and Toronto students, Massada, Israel April 2013 (The March of the Living)

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March of the Living – Poland

March of the Living (Poland April 2013)

March of the Living (Poland April 2013)

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Efi – The End of Processing

Efi Arazi

Efi Arazi

Last Saturday, we were invited by our friends Karen and Steve to celebrate Karen’s birthday at Walima, our favorite Moroccan restaurant on Avenue Road.

As the evening progressed, the conversation meandered gently from place to place, from our lives back in Africa, Israel and Europe to our great migration to Canada. Lindy and I spoke of our wonderful years working for Scitex, by far the most exciting and most advanced high-tech company of its time.  Our friend Steve marveled at hearing stories of scientific wonder, astonishing technological prowess and deep collegial camaraderie.  At one point, he asked us: “What made Scitex such a fantastic company?”

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The Obama Yad Vashem Address

A proud admirer (© Michel Botman Photography, Ottawa 2010)

A proud admirer (© Michel Botman Photography, Ottawa 2010)

As many of our loved ones journeyed from Poland to Israel, traveling across the world from a somber Yom HaShoah commemoration in Auschwitz to a glorious Yom HaAtzma’ut celebration in Massada, we are also to remember the thousands of survivors who embarked on a much harsher crossing, many years ago, in the midst of the Jewish Holocaust. We are to remember the extraordinary escape of millions of Jews, expelled from Europe, unwelcomed by most, pushed into a perilous journey that took them back to their long-lost promised land, a journey towards the birth of a new nation in the sands of their ancient homeland.

A few weeks ago, in Yad Vashem, President Obama spoke magnificently, in forever brilliant and inspiring words, of the tragedy of the Holocaust, of love, hate, of righteous men and survivors, of humanity’s grandeur and most tragic failures.

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Memories from Auschwitz

"Nuit et brouillard" (Michel Botman Photography 1977)

“Nuit et brouillard” (© Michel Botman Photography, Poland 1977)

In the spring of 1977, I was in my last year of Humanity studies at the “Collège St. Vincent”, in the small town of Soignies, in the French part of Belgium.  I was invited to accompany my good friend André Gréga, for a summer visit to his family in Poland. Astonishingly smart and talented, André was by a long shot the brightest student of our school, a brilliant writer, and still today the most dazzling mind I have ever met. He was born in Belgium of Polish immigrants, but sill had his grandparents, uncle and aunt and some cousins behind the Iron Curtain. He had visited the country of his ancestors a couple of times, but this was my first trip to the East.

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Howard & Nancy Kleinberg: Testimonies of Survivors

Howard Kleinberg, Holocaust survivor. (Michel Botman Photography, Toronto, February 2013)

Howard Kleinberg, Holocaust survivor. (© Michel Botman Photography, Toronto, February 2013)

By Noah Botman.

On Sunday February 10, 2013, in preparation for “The March of the Living”, scheduled to take place early April, a few Jewish students – including our son, Noah – interviewed Holocaust survivors, Nancy and Howard Kleinberg. We thank Howard and Nancy for taking the time to share their personal stories with the students. Below is a written extract of their testimonies prepared by Noah Botman.

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The Political Correctness of the Hideous

Antisemitic Scarfe cartoon

Gerald Scarfe Anti-Israeli cartoon published on Holocaust Memorial Day (Google Images – Jan 27, 2013)

The paradoxical “political correctness” of Israel bashing: new variations on an antediluvian theme.

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Abdennour Bidar on Islam and Intolerance

Secrets of Christianity (Michel Botman Photography, Ottawa, 2010)

Secrets of Christianity (© Michel Botman Photography, Ottawa, 2010)

As French soldiers are in the midst of a fairly large military intervention in Mali against the AQMI terrorists (an Islamic movement linked to Al-Qaida), a controversial poll has been published recently in French newspapers.

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My take on the Canon EOS 6D

Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Canon 6D, 24-105IS, f4, 1/40, ISO 1000. (Michel Botman Photography 2012)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Canon 6D, 24-105IS, f4, 1/40, ISO 1000. (© Michel Botman Photography 2012)

I usually don’t discuss technical photographic issues on my blog, but since I received a few inquiries about my equipment, I have decided to make a quick entry – particularly on the recent addition of a Canon EOS 6D to my photographic toolkit.

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Historical Accuracy – Please!

Arab Quarter, Jerusalem (Michel Botman photography, 2009)

Arab Quarter, Jerusalem (© Michel Botman photography, 2009)

On November 30, 2012, the day the Palestinian Authority obtained non-member observer state status at the United Nations, I received an email from, Avaaz, a civic organization of which I have been a member for a number of years. (Email attached at the bottom of this article).

Below is a slight correction I suggested to Avaaz towards greater historical honesty:

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Not all equal

Joy ride. Gaza City, November 2012. (Google Images)

All deaths are not equal.  There is tragedy, there is sadness… and there is nausea.

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Evanescence

On time, beauty and the permanence of photographic images

AIDS (SIDA) campaign in Belgium. 1986. (© Dominique Bataille photography)

For weeks, I resisted watching the unbearably sad video recorded by Amanda Todd.  I knew her dramatic entanglement in a web she could no longer control.  I dreaded the uneasy feeling of the voyeuristic driver slowing down on the highway to get a better look at accident victims lined-up on the side of the road.  I was trying to look the other way, not indifferent, but out of respect.

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Unveiling and Uprising

“This is who I am”, Dana Bakdounis (Thx to our friends at Google Images)

Dana Bakdounis; breaking free from the confines of the chrysalis.  Giving a voice and a face to the uprising of women in the Arab world:

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