A major new exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust opens today. The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do offers an expansive and timely presentation of Holocaust history told through personal stories, objects, photos, and film—many on view for the first time.
The 12,000-square-foot exhibition features over 750 original objects and survivor testimonies from the Museum’s collection. Together, these objects tell a global story through a local lens, rooted in objects donated by survivors and their families, many of whom settled in New York and nearby places.
In keeping with the Museum’s mission to educate people of all ages and backgrounds on the broad tapestry of Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust, the exhibition features countless beginnings, middles, and too many endings that make up the stories of The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do. 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. Within the Holocaust experiences of legalized racism and fascism, pogroms, ghettos, mass murder, and concentration camps are instances of personal and global decision-making, escape, resistance, and resilience, and ultimately liberation and new beginnings.
The audio tour guide accompanying the exhibition, available for download through the free Bloomberg Connects app, features narration from actress Julianna Margulies, winner of eight Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Golden Globe, and Eleanor Reissa, the Tony-nominated director, Broadway and television actress, prize-winning playwright, author of the memoir “The Letters Project: A Daughter’s Journey,” and former artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, acclaimed vocalist and Yiddishist, and actress Lauren Lebowitz are also featured on the audio guide, for which Paul Salmons Associates provided creative development (Paul Salmons, tour concept and historical interpretation; Leah Kharibian, scriptwriter).
“The title of our new exhibition speaks to our institution’s very reason for being,” says Museum President & 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.”
“It is a particular point of pride for our institution that this exhibition gives new life to the Museum’s collection. The hundreds of artifacts, many of them donated by survivors, that visitors will experience were all donated to our institution with extraordinary trust and vision, and we are grateful. Each offers up its own story, and together these artifacts present an irrefutable record of history,” says the Museum’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bruce Ratner.
The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is the Museum’s first exhibition to open in its core galleries since its award-winning and widely acclaimed Auschwitz. Not Long ago. Not far away. concluded last spring.
The new exhibition was curated by a team of esteemed Holocaust scholars, historians, and Museum curators that included Professor Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, Scott Miller, Ilona Moradof, and Rebecca Frank, and consulting curators Professor Michael Berenbaum and Paul Salmons.
The Scholars Advisory Group included Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr., Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, Atina Grossman, and Paul Wasserman.
“Working on The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do has been one of the high points of my professional career,” says co-curator Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, Professor and Director of Holocaust Research in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. “As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, I have always taught my students, through stories and documentation, about what happened, and why it happened. Here, for the first time, I can actually show people how it happened and to whom it happened through hundreds of objects and graphics, most from the Museum’s collection, via the stories of the people behind the artifacts, through wall texts and an audio guide, documentary films and survivor testimonies, all put together in a unique and thought-provoking display. The Holocaust may be part of the past, but hatred, and what it can do, are very much part of our present. This path-breaking exhibition serves as a stark reminder of what can happen if that hatred is not stopped in time.”
“We are proud and honored to be long-time supporters of The Museum of Jewish Heritage, an eternal memorial to those who perished, but also a beacon of hope: the hope that through learning from history we can avoid repeating the tragedies of the past. We are privileged to support this important new exhibition and the expansion of the Museum’s vital educational mission,” says Lily Safra, Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, a lead funder of the exhibition.
“The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is an important exhibit, highlighting the impact of unchecked hatred. It is imperative that future generations understand that the Holocaust was not only a state-sponsored murder of the Jews but was, in many cases, also a communal act of complacency. Only through education can we begin to understand the outcomes bigotry and social silence inflicted on the Jewish people during the Holocaust. It is our job to give voice to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in that annihilation and to help future generations avoid the same complacency,” says Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a lead funder of the exhibition.
“We were eight brothers and one sister with loving parents; only me and my brother Yankel survived. I am from Lodz and was in the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos, the Deblin and Auschwitz death camps, and on the death march from Magdeburg. As a survivor, number 189897, I feel a responsibility to teach the lessons of the Holocaust—that hate is an insidious murderer of humanity. May we never forget those who perished in the Holocaust, and may we always be courageous in standing up to hate. This is why I am so happy to support the work that the Museum of Jewish Heritage is doing, especially in such an important city like New York, that embraces its diversity as a strength,” says benefactor David Wiener.
“Eighty years ago, on May 29,1942, my great grandparents Berel and Sara Fish Hy”d and Velvel and Zissel Poltorak Hy”d perished in mass shootings alongside 287 other Jewish families (over 800 people), all of whom were relatives and friends in Yanushpol (renamed Ivanapol after the War), Ukraine,” says Eli Gurfel, a major donor. “I honor their memories with my support of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the importance it places on diverse Holocaust scholarship to broaden Holocaust awareness and education. As Elie Weisel said, ‘Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.’ Especially given current events in Ukraine, my hope is visitors will see this exhibition and come away with broader understandings of what happens when hate and bigotry go unchecked.”
The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is made possible with leadership support from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Oster Family, Patti Askwith Kenner and Family, Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and Evelyn Seroy in memory of her parents Julius & Ruth Eggener.
Generous support is provided by presenting partners Peter and Mary Kalikow, The Pickman Foundation, and Larry and Klara Silverstein and Family.
With special thanks to our benefactors Anonymous, Carlos and Malú Alvarez, Stefany and Simon Bergson, Campari USA, Michele & Marty Cohen, Michael Lowenstein, Manhattan Beer Distributors, Bruce Ratner and Family, Wendy Lowenstein Sandler and Neil Sandler, and David Wiener 189897, Son of Moishe Chaim and Hannah Wiener.
Additional support is made possible by advocates Bloomberg Philanthropies, Breakthru Beverage, Constellation Brands, Nancy Fisher, The Gallery Educator Friends of the Museum, Eli Gurfel and Family in memory of Berel and Sara Fish Hy”d and Velvel and Zessel Poltorak Hy”d, alongside 287 Jewish families who perished in Yanuspol, Ukraine, Marjorie and Jeffrey Honickman, George Klein and Family, Charles and Leigh Merinoff, New York State Council on the Arts, Maryanne and Dominic Origlio, a Gift in Memory of the Sundheimer and Semler Families, and Laurie M. Tisch.
With gratitude to our sponsors Joyce and Fred Claar, Ron Garfunkel and Sande Breakstone, The Knapp Family Foundation, the Stephen & Rita Lerner Family, Scott & Debby Rechler | Rechler Philanthropy, and the Saiontz Family in Memory of Jack and Sally Feldman, as well as our friends Judy and Ron Baron, Corner Foundation, Pete and Marilyn Coors, Mary Ann Fribourg, Jill and Peter Kraus, Sybil Shainwald, The Starr Foundation, and other generous donors.
Currently on view at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, Boris Lurie: Nothing To Do But To Try, on view through November 6, 2022.
Taking a look-back at the Museum’s exhibition, Auschwitz. Not Long ago. Not far away.