NEW YORK – A new exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City called “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” offers a showcase of history told through personal stories, objects, photos and film – many on view for the first time.
More than 750 artifacts are on display at the 1,115-square-meter exhibition, which opened on Friday, and was curated by a team of esteemed Holocaust scholars, historians and museum curators, including Prof. Michael Berenbaum.
“Remember, these people saved it from 1939 onward because this represented the quest for freedom for them,” Berenbaum told press during an advanced viewing of the exhibit on Thursday.
“Remember, these people saved it from 1939 onward because this represented the quest for freedom for them.”Prof. Michael Berenbaum
He pointed to displayed memorabilia from the MS St. Louis, the ship full of Jews seeking asylum that was turned away at the shores of the United States and sent back to Europe to face the Holocaust.
The audio tour guide accompanying the exhibition, available for download through the free Bloomberg Connects app, features narration from Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actress Julianna Margulies and Tony-nominated director and actress Eleanor Reissa.
Highlighting stories about Jewish life
The exhibit highlights stories about Jewish life before, during and after the Holocaust. It also showcases the establishment of Israel. Opening against the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the collection explores the history of Ukrainian Jews.
“Each room and each object contains generations of experiences and information about who Jews are, what sustains Jewish communities, and what life was like during the period of European modernization, World War I, and the political and social movements that brought about the rise of the Nazi Party,” the museum said.
“The title of our new exhibition speaks to our institution’s very reason for being,” added museum president and CEO Jack Kliger. “Antisemitism and fascism are again on the rise throughout the world. Right here in New York, we have witnessed not only a surge in antisemitism but an uptick in violence and harassment targeting many marginalized groups. The time to speak out and act is upon us, and it is urgent.
“We hope “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” will educate and inspire our visitors and honor those who perished in the Holocaust, whose memories are a blessing.”
Three Holocaust survivors attended the media preview of the opening of the exhibit, including Toby Levy, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Chodorow, Poland (now Lviv in modern-day Ukraine).
Levy’s family defied orders and went into hiding in 1942, taken in by a Polish woman who had been a customer in her father’s store. For two years, Levy and eight family members remained hidden in a barn until they were liberated by the Soviet Army. Today, Levy is a member of the museum’s speakers bureau.
The new exhibit is important, Levy said, because antisemitism is on the rise again.
“I’m scared,” she said. “Not for me; I’m old. I’m scared for my children. My hope beyond hope is that this museum can teach and that everybody will become a witness. When I’m gone, I need you all to be a witness for me.
“This gives me an opportunity to talk, to teach children what hate can do to you.
“I never want revenge,” Levy continued. “I am alive, I enjoy every minute of my life, I have Jewish children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. That’s my revenge.”
“The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” is set to run through November 6 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the third-largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second-largest in North America. Located on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, the museum overlooks the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.