Nina Talbot

Painter - Writer

"Dynów Jews in the Paintings of Nina Talbot/ Meeting with the Painter"
By Natalia Chrapek

from – Poldkarpackie Opinion Portal/Culture/January 20, 2020

» Read the article (Polish)

On Wednesday, January 29th, Dynów High School will be visited by Nina Talbot, an American painter who recreates on canvas the story of her ancestors - the historic rabbis of Dynów. Many of them died during the extermination of Jews on the second day of Rosh Hashanah in 1939.

Nina Talbot has been to Dynów many times before. It was here that the painter's grandmother, Bella Neger, was born. At the age of 17, she emigrated to the United States to escape the Nazi occupiers. Uncles and cousins of the artist were not so lucky, as the Nazis murdered them on the second day of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish equivalent of New Year's Day, a holiday lasting two days) in September 1939. The names of the murdered are commemorated by a tablet placed in the Center for the History and Culture of Polish Jews in Dynów, a place that aims to build new relations between Poles and Jews.

Nina Talbot also founded a memorial plaque in Karolówka, a district of the town where murdered Jews, including her ancestors, were buried in a mass grave," recalls Maciej Jurasiński, a historian and teacher at the Dynów high school.

History written anew

Having travelled to Dynów several times, Nina Talbot started to reconstruct the lives of her ancestors. Based on her mother's stories, she portrays the world that no longer exists - she touches upon faces, places, relationships, family intricacies and stories. She wraps everything up in the picturesque landscape of the Dynowskie Foothills, crisscrossed by ribbons of the San River, fields of grain and bourgeois tenement houses, which still stand on the main road leading to the town center.

Before she started painting, the artist had to research the history of Dynów and, what is most important, talk to the inhabitants who still remember the old times. The aforementioned Center for the History and Culture of Polish Jews in Dynów, established by Rabbi Pinchas Pompa from Israel, proved to be helpful in gathering the necessary documentation. There is a small museum there, with pre-war photos of Dynów, although there are no pictures of the synagogues or the Jewish cemetery. However, there are many souvenirs, including the most important ones: a fragment of a Torah which belonged to Menachem Mendel, a charismatic Tzaddick from Rymanów, and a L’viv edition (dated 1876) of works by Shapiro Elimelech Tzvi from Dynów. Additionally, scraps of candlesticks and Chanukah candlesticks, unearthed from the ground, are modest testimonies of the past life, which Nina Talbot will talk about on Wednesday, January 29th, at the Dynów High School. During a meeting with young people and residents, which will start at 10 am, the painter will present an exhibition called 'Faces of Dynów', portraits of members of her family, some of whom survived emigrating to the United States. The event is part of the Days of Memory of Holocaust Victims in Podcarpackie province.

On the Trail of Dynów Jews

First Jews settled in Dynów at the beginning of the 16th century. At first they belonged to the Przemyśl kahilla. It seems that the local Jewish community gained its independence at the end of the 17th century. It owned a wooden synagogue and a cemetery. There was a mikvah, a hospital, and bejt ha midrash (house of learning). At the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, the existence of a Jewish street in the town was noted. At that time 52 houses belonged to Jews, eleven of which were situated in the market square. They were inhabited by 435 people, which made 1/3 of the whole population of the town, which at the turn of the 18th and 19th c. became an important center of Hasidism. At that time, Yehoshua Heschl and Yaakov Tzvi Yalish were tzaddiks there. In the first half of the 17th c., Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro, the author of many kabalistic commentaries and the founder of the dynasty of Tzadikim of Dynów, had his seat here. He was succeeded by his son, Dawid Szapiro, and later by his grandson, Izayasz Naftali Herz.