Geoffrey Laurence, Atonement, 2022

There are five prayer services during Yom Kippur (Hebrew for Day of Atonement), one of which is based on a story about Aaron from the Torah. Leviticus 16:1 states: “The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the Lord.” God ordered Aaron to the temple to slaughter three goats and two rams. The scapegoats atone for the sins of the Jews.

Laurence’s parents were Holocaust survivors but spoke nothing of it to Laurence until later in his life. Since then he has been learning about the Jewish faith and painting his questions about the Holocaust. While working through his ideas on this story of Aaron he says “I realized that Auschwitz is the temple and the goats are us.” In the background we see the gates of Auschwitz, which carry the slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” in German (“Work sets you free”).

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