A monument honoring the millions of children lost in the Holocaust was recently unveiled in West Palm Beach. The powerful and symbolic structure, titled the Gendelman Children’s Holocaust Memorial, was created by artist Bruce Gendelman who also serves as chairman of the board of the Norton Museum of Art.

Gendelman’s art encompasses landscape, the Holocaust, and the COVID pandemic in a variety of media, including oil, sculpture, photography, and multi-media installations. His body of post- witness Holocaust artwork has been the focus of solo exhibitions at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Detroit, and the Palac Sztuki in Krakow, Poland, a museum that once served as a Nazi headquarters.

Unveiled against a backdrop of rising antisemitism, while the sculpture took four years to complete, the timing of its unveiling is poignant. Inspired by local trees like the magnificent Kapok tree on Palm Beach’s Lake Trail, and the Banyan Tree framed by the front façade of the Norton, Gendelman says, “These trees have a strong presence in South Florida. Their roots are deep and broad, their trunks are massive, their branches sprawling — they stand up to the enormous winds of hurricanes. The delicate butterflies and the lives lost from human hatred that these butterflies represent, deserve such a mighty and ‘living’ memorial.”

The massive bronze sculpture weighting 33,000 lbs, with arching limbs reaching 27-feet into the sky, serves as a permanent home to 4,000 ceramic butterflies, each representing a child who was killed in the Holocaust. The butterflies were painted by Palm Beach County students, survivors, and community members as part of the global Butterfly Project.

A ceremony attended by nearly 400 guests took place two days before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Those in attendance included David S. Mack, chairman MorseLife Health System; Keith Myers, President & CEO of MorseLife; Ambassador Michael B. Oren, the former Ambassador of Israel to the United States; James S. Snyder, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director at the Jewish Museum in New York city; arts educator Allen Caucutt and friends and family including Lori Gendelman, Lisa & Richard Perry, and Sarah Gavlak & Barry Blumberg.


The tree and surrounding butterfly garden are open to the public and provide a peaceful setting for education, contemplation, remembrance, and study.

Nazi’s youngest victims memorialized in butterflies and bronze.

The project was co-founded in 2006 by artist Cheryl Rattner Price and educator Jan Landau as an initiative to take Holocaust education out of the textbook and bring it to life in a way that inspires students to make the world a better place. As of 2023, installations totaling nearly 336,000 butterflies have been created in communities of all faiths across the United States, and in Israel, Mexico, Poland, Australia, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada and Argentina.

Having had success introducing the project to Florida, Rabbi Erica Rosenkranz approached Gendelman, known for his large-scale Holocaust works, to devise a home for the locally-created butterflies.

A life-long artist, Gendelman says it was a trip in 2015 to Poland and Ukraine to trace what happened to his grandparent’s family that guided him to Holocaust-related art-activism. “That trip changed my life in unexpected ways, because I was so moved by deeply feeling the remnants of Nazi Eastern Europe, and the enormity of the evil of the Nazi philosophy. I returned with a renewed purpose to my art to scream as loud as I can on canvas or in metal to at least try in some small way to impact a viewer.”


Cast piece-by-piece using the last-wax method — the same 6,000-year-old process used by the Greeks and Romans — 347 individual castings and an additional 148 branches were welded around a skeleton support structure. Every aspect of the sculpture was painstakingly designed, and often, redesigned, to ensure it will withstand South Florida’s climate and extreme weather for the ages.

Now, having taken root at the campus of MorseLife Health System in West Palm Beach, the tree and its resident butterflies continue their educational mission, serving as the symbol of MorseLife’s Holocaust Learning Experience, which teaches the lessons of the Holocaust throughout Florida classrooms. The HLE offers in-person lessons on the MorseLife campus, which conclude with a time for reflection at the memorial. In addition to lessons on campus, the HLE has been entrusted by the State of Florida to deliver age-appropriate lessons for grades 5-12 to all 67 school districts.


For more information, please visit HolocaustLearningExperience.org