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CWA Prayer/Action focuses on Israel, Holocaust Awareness

On Tuesday, April 16, the local Prayer/Action Chapter of Concerned Women for America of Missouri held their regular meeting at Covenant Life Church, 120 N. 3rd St. in Branson. The meeting opened with prayer for specific aspects of the current situation in Israel, following up on a prayer service held by CWA on Friday, April 12, at the Scripture Garden on the College of the Ozarks campus.


Shirah Miriam Aumann, founder and director of the Antisemitism Education Center of the Ozarks and coordinator of the Holocaust Education and Awareness Week in Branson, introduced artist Mary Burkett as the featured speaker for the meeting. Burkett is the creator of the “Beloved: Children of the Holocaust” art exhibit, in memory of children who did not survive the Holocaust. Working from photographs that surfaced after World War II, she has drawn portraits and researched the stories of many of those children. In 2024, she received the Anne Frank Award for her work.


Burkett’s testimony of how she became an artist is nothing short of miraculous. A retired pediatric nurse and former homeschooling mom and grandmother, she found herself in 2017 with “the gift of time.” Wondering about the styles of portraiture that she saw in classical art and vintage photographs, she went to Hobby Lobby for paper and pencils to try creating a portrait of a five-year-old boy who was murdered at Auschwitz, and was amazed by how the child’s eyes came to life as she worked, even though she had no art training. That was only the beginning of the portraits—and the stories.


Burkett shared that as she worked, she thought about the mothers, who would have carefully prepared the child for the photograph by choosing an outfit. “Each child has a story,” said Burkett. She learned that some children went with their mothers to gas chambers, while others were shot and some were tossed into open burn pits as they were considered “useless eaters.” Realizing the horror of an entire segment of population being deemed worthless, Burkett felt she could help restore the children’s humanity through the gift of art God had given her. In addition to the “Beloved” portraits, she has done a series on children of slavery in the U.S.


Although Burkett did not actively plan to market her work, word spread, leading to contacts from the White House, the Canterbury Cathedral, and other opportunities described in her booklet, “An Unexpected Year,” available on Amazon or via her website, www.maryburkettart.com. Another book, “Little Book of Heroes,” describes ordinary people who stepped out of their comfort zone to help; the concluding portrait in the original “Beloved” set is not of a child but of a doctor who chose to accompany Jewish children in his care to death rather than abandon them.


The documentary of Burkett’s work and testimony was shown on Wednesday evening, April 17, as part of the Holocaust Awareness and Education Week in Branson; it is available on Prime and Tubi and well worth the time to watch. Awareness Week continues through Saturday, including additional films hosted by IMAX and a special children’s presentation at the Library Center of the Ozarks, highlighting the connection between the children of the Holocaust and the classic stories of Paddington Bear.


Along with Holocaust education, CWA members at the meeting were urged to continue praying for Israel, Israeli leaders and defense forces, and hostages still being held since October 7, as well as for U.S. leaders to continue supporting Israel.


Visit the Antisemitism Education Center of the Ozarks page on Facebook for details about remaining Holocaust Week activities. To join the Prayer/Action chapter and for local and Missouri CWA updates, email havenhoward01@gmail.com.

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