In 1989 Kaplan received a Canada Council grant to travel to Europe and visit concentration camps. Her response was the body of work titled Kaddish. Absorbed by the Holocaust and the disappearance of Jewish life in Europe, Kaplan visited camps in Germany, Holland and Poland in search of signs of Judaism. Finding almost no apparent physical or material acknowledgement of Hitler’s destruction, she created this series as a way of doing her own mourning for the Jewish dead, including her father’s family. Kaddish includes rubbings of Jewish gravestones as well as collages of images of the aftermath of the Holocaust. Kaplan worked on this series for five years.
“In 1940, a 6-year-old girl, her Mother, Father and brother fled from their home in Nazi-occupied Lithuania to the safety of Canada. I was that little girl. Twenty-nine members of my Father’s family perished. Had we not been among the 5,000 Jewish families allowed entry into Canada during terrible years, we, too, would have died. Kaddish is the Jewish memorial prayer for the dead said at specific times to commemorate the beloved and to renew faith in one’s God. Many of the Six Million lie in unmarked graves and have no survivors to say Kaddish for them. This work is my own Kaddish for my Father’s family and the Six Million.” — Nomi Kaplan