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Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust Extends Groundbreaking Auschwitz Exhibition in Response to High Demand

Artifacts and images from dozens of institutions and private collections from around the world are on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s groundbreaking exhibit, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away, including Mauthausen Memorial, Mauthausen, Austria, where the crematorium is no longer open to the public. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

– Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. exhibition will remain on view at the NYC museum through August 30, 2020, an eight-month extension from its originally scheduled close date –

– Exhibition features more than 700 objects and 400 photographs on display in North America for the first time, including a shofar that was secretly blown at Auschwitz and a collection of 10 original artifacts from the Anne Frank House –

New York, NY – Due to an overwhelming response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust today announced that Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America, will be extended until August 30, 2020. Produced by the international exhibition firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland, the groundbreaking exhibition is the largest ever on Auschwitz with more than 700 original objects and 400 photographs.

The extension responds to the record number of visitors the exhibition drew to the Museum since opening in May. To date, more than 106,000 people from across the country and globe have come to the Museum to see the exhibition, including more than 36,000 students to date and approximately 12,000 students scheduled to visit before the end of 2019.

“The number of adults and school visitors drawn to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. has been incredible. This exhibition greets its visitors with a clear warning to be vigilant – to not allow this history to repeat and to never presume that it won’t,” notes Bruce C. Ratner, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “In recent years and recent months even, we have seen a surge in antisemitic rhetoric, hate crimes, and a weaponized nationalism both here in the United States and abroad. We are extending this exhibition at our Museum because it offers clear, moral lessons that resonate powerfully today and from which visitors want to learn.”

“It has been a great honor to preside over the Museum as it presents this astounding exhibition and to witness it move so many of our visitors as deeply as it has moved me,” says Jack Kliger, the Museum’s President & CEO. “Most remarkable, this exhibition is dynamic. Already large in scope, it continues to acquire new artifacts over the course of its life, such as the shofar clandestinely used in Auschwitz that we unveiled last month ahead of Rosh Hashanah.”

“We have been profoundly overwhelmed by the phenomenal visitor response in New York – not only by the numbers themselves, but especially by the time visitors spend in the exhibition – on average two hours – and the care, attention and respect they show for this story. Deciding to visit this exhibition is a courageous step. It means confronting oneself with a traumatic, complex and challenging past. And more importantly, it helps us understand more critically our own present,” says Luis Ferreiro, Director of Musealia and the exhibition project.

“I don’t think that there is a more important exhibition presented in New York at the moment. This one about Auschwitz explores the essence of mankind, analyzes the limits of what is human, and asks important questions about our contemporary responsibility. I am glad people will be able to see it there longer,” says Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. traces the development of Nazi ideology and tells the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as Oświęcim to the largest German Nazi concentration camp and the most significant site of the Holocaust —at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. Victims included Polish political prisoners, Sinti and Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those the Nazis deemed “homosexual,” “disabled,” “criminal,” “inferior,” or adversarial in countless other ways. The exhibition tells not only the story of their persecution and murder, but also the myriad ways ordinary people responded to the unfolding genocide, including inspiring stories of resistance, resilience, courage, and altruism. In addition, the exhibition contains artifacts that depict the world of the perpetrators—SS men who created and operated the largest of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camps.

With more than 700 objects and 400 photographs, mainly from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the New York presentation of the exhibition allows visitors to experience artifacts from more than 20 international museums and institutions on view for the first time in North America, including hundreds of personal items—such as suitcases, eyeglasses, and shoes—that belonged to survivors and victims of Auschwitz. Other artifacts include: concrete posts that were part of the fence of the Auschwitz camp; part of an original barrack for prisoners from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp; a desk and other possessions of the first and the longest-serving Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss; a gas mask used by the SS; Picasso’s Lithograph of Prisoner; and an original German-made Model 2 freight train car of the type used for the deportation of Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps in occupied Poland. 

The exhibition also features 10 artifacts on loan from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which include the spilled, dried beans Anne wrote about in her diary and that were later discovered lodged between the cracks of stairs in the home where she hid from the German Nazis. The beans have never been displayed anywhere before. Most recently, the Museum announced the exhibition’s incorporation of a shofar (a ram’s horn that is made into a special wind instrument used during Jewish High Holiday services) that was hidden and clandestinely blown in the Auschwitz. The shofar was newly added to the exhibition on the cusp of the High Holy days and temporarily transported to two New York City synagogues to be blown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage has incorporated into the exhibition nearly 100 rare artifacts from its collection that relay the experience of survivors and liberators who found refuge in the greater New York area. These artifacts include: Alfred Kantor’s sketchbook and portfolio that contain over 150 original paintings and drawings from Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Schwarzheide; the trumpet that musician Louis Bannet (acclaimed as “the Dutch Louis Armstrong”) credits for saving his life while he was imprisoned in Auschwitz; visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania often referred to as “Japan’s Oskar Schindler”; prisoner registration forms and identification cards; personal correspondence; tickets for passage on the St. Louis; and a rescued Torah scroll from the Bornplatz Synagogue in Hamburg. 

Also on display from the Museum of Jewish Heritage collection is Heinrich Himmler’s SS helmet and his annotated copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as well as an anti-Jewish proclamation issued in 1551 by Ferdinand I that was given to Hermann Göring by German security chief Reinhard Heydrich on the occasion of Göring’s birthday. The proclamation required Jews to identify themselves with a “yellow ring” on their clothes. Heydrich noted that, 400 years later, the Nazis were completing Ferdinand’s work. These artifacts stand as evidence of a chapter of history that must never be forgotten.

Alongside Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away., the Museum offers a series of talks, screenings, performances, and commemorative events that further explore Jewish history and life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The last week of October, artist and Holocaust survivor William Bernheim will discuss his history and artistic response, and author Marty Brounstein will present a program abouta Christian couple in the Netherlands who saved the lives of over two dozen Jews. November programming includes commemorative events for the 81stanniversary of Kristallnacht, including “Stories Survive: An Eyewitness Account of Kristallnacht” with Ruth Zimbler. In December, The Sorceress will be performed by the resident National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. To learn more about these and other activities, visit the Museum’s Events page here: https://mjhnyc.org/current-events/

Following the New York presentation, the exhibition is intended to tour other cities around the world. Future destinations will be announced by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Curated by an international team of experts led by historian Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. first opened in New York City on May 8, 2019 after its successful run at Madrid’s Arte Canal Exhibition Centre, where it was extended two times, drew more than 600,000 visitors, and was one of the most visited exhibitions in Europe last year. The exhibition explores the dual identity of the camp as a physical location—the largest documented mass murder site in human history—and as a symbol of the borderless manifestation of hatred and human barbarity.

Museum of Jewish Heritage Board Vice Chairman George Klein visited the exhibition in Spain and recommended to his Board that they bring it to Lower Manhattan.The exhibition features artifacts and materials on loan from more than 20 institutions and private collections around the world. In addition to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, participating institutions include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, the Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg, and the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide in London. 

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far awaywas conceived of by Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and curated by an international panel of experts, including world-renowned scholars Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, and Paul Salmons, in an unprecedented collaboration with historians and curators at the Research Center at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, led by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz.

“When we, the Musealia curatorial team set out to design the Auschwitz exhibition, we realized that we faced a difficult problem. In Auschwitz over a million people, mostly Jews, were murdered shortly after their arrival or suffered and died in unimaginable circumstances. How does one create an exhibition about such a dark chapter in human history that, in our understanding, is not long ago and happened in a place not far away? How does one make the public, that has so many opportunities to explore a great city like New York, decide that it would want to see such an exhibition? Our tools were straightforward: a narrative told through more than 700 original artifacts, 400 original images, 100 stories, made present by means of filmed testimonies and quotes – all revealing individual experiences of a history we must learn from,” says Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, Chief Curator.

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. is presented in the symbolic, hexagonally-shaped core building at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This 18,000-square-foot exhibition introduces artifacts and Holocaust survivor testimony through 20 thematic galleries. 

Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away. at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is made possible with lead support by Bruce C. Ratner, George and Adele Klein Family Foundation, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, and Larry and Klara Silverstein & Family. The exhibition is presented in part with major support by The David Berg Foundation, Patti Askwith Kenner, The Oster Family Foundation, and The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust. The New York premiere is made possible in part by Simon & Stefany Bergson with additional support from The Knapp Family Foundation.

GENERAL INFORMATION

TICKETS

Entry is by timed ticket available at Auschwitz.nyc. Audio guide (available in 8 languages) is included with admission.

$25 Flexible Entry—entry any time on a specific day

$16 Adults

$12 Seniors and People with Disabilities

$10 Students and Veterans

$8 Museum Members

FREE for Holocaust survivors, active members of the military and first responders, and students and teachers through grade 12 in schools located in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut (with valid school-issued ID). 

For group visits, contact the Museum at 646.437.4304 or groupvisits@mjhnyc.org. See Auschwitz.nyc for more information.

HOURS AS OF NOVEMBER 1, 2019:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Thursday          10 AM to 6 PM            
Wednesday                                                     10 AM to 9 PM

Friday                                                              10 AM to 3 PM            

Last admission to Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far awayis 2 hours before closing time. Last entrance to the rest of the Museum is 30 minutes prior to closing time.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Since 1997, the Museum of Jewish Heritage has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors; it maintains a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. 

The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. 

The Museum is closed on Saturdays, Jewish holidays, and Thanksgiving. 

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, New York City, 646-437-4202, mjhnyc.org.

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Photo Exhibit Honoring Elie Wiesel Opens in Moscow

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Limmud FSU, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, in partnership with the Shem Olam Institute and the Nativ organization, has just opened a photographic survey of the life of Elie Wiesel, at the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow. The exhibition will run until the end of September.

An array of VIPs participated in the opening August 25, including Russian Chief Rabbi Avraham Shayevich; Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kenner; Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; Conference of European Rabbis President Pinchas Goldschmidt; Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Secretary General Mikhail Chlenov; Israeli-Russian Business Council Chairman Dr. Temur Ben Yehuda; Prof. Ilya Altman, representing the Claims Conference in the FSU; American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s representative in Moscow, Alik Nadan; and the founder and chairman of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler.

Wiesel was a leading supporter of the movement to free Soviet Jewry and in 1966 wrote a highly influential book on the struggle. “It’s fitting that Elie Wiesel was honored in Moscow by the very people he helped free 50 years after writing ‘The Jews of Silence,'” said Chesler. “His memory will serve as an inspiration and a symbol of our triumph.”

Dr. Yoel Rappel, the founder and director of the Elie Wiesel Archive at Boston University, curated the exhibition, which showcases milestones in Wiesel’s life, from his youth before and during the Holocaust to his work as a novelist, journalist, Jewish leader and Nobel Prize winner.

“When I asked Wiesel how the struggle for Soviet Jewry is more important than the struggle for Holocaust awareness, he replied: ‘the Jews of Europe were exterminated physically by the Nazis; the Jews of the Soviet Union were being destroyed spiritually. The first we were unable to avoid, but we must prevent the second from succeeding,'” said Rappel.

Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, now in Romania. He was just 15 years old when the Nazis deported him and his family to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, yet his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

“Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was a source of inspiration for Jews around the world – and all free people. A philosopher, teacher, journalist and writer, he embodied the struggle against evil and for the right of Diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel,” said Landver. “There is no one who will be better remembered as a fighter for humanity. Wiesel managed to break through the Iron Curtain and allow many Jews to return to the Jewish homeland.”

In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel as chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the founding chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Wiesel and his wife Marion established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice. He received 140 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning all over the world.

Elie Wiesel died in New York in July.

The entire exhibition may be viewed or downloaded here.

Limmud FSU is a nonprofit founded 10 years ago by Chaim Chesler, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency, and Sandra Cahn, a philanthropist from New York. Since its inaugural conference in Moscow in 2006, Limmud FSU has created an independent educational and communal network of annual conferences and festivals, attracting more than 35,000 participants in Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Russian Far East and the Volga-Ural region), Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Israel, North America (Greater New York, the West Coast, and Canada), and Australia. Limmud FSU engages young Russian-Jewish adults, empowering them to take ownership of their identity and to connect with their communities through pluralistic, egalitarian volunteer-driven conferences of Jewish learning and culture. In this way, Limmud FSU strives to foster the next generation of young Russian-speaking Jewish leadership and so revitalize Jewish communities in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and in countries with Russian-Jewish communities, wherever they may be. Key partners include the Claims Conference, JDC, philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Aaron Frenkel, Michal Grayevsky, Ronald Lauder, Diane Wohl, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), UJA-Federation of New York, Israel Bonds, the Jewish Agency, and others. For additional details: www.limmudfsu.org.
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Burkat Global Tour Explores 3000 Years of Jewish India Up to Present

Travelers at Magen Aboth Synagogue in Alibag on the Konkan Coast following the path of Jews shipwrecked there more than 2,000 years ago. The synagogue is two hours from Mumbai by private boat and bus on Burkat Global's "3000 Years of Jewish India" tour starting in Mumbai, January 26, 2015 © Burkat Global, LLC
Travelers at Magen Aboth Synagogue in Alibag on the Konkan Coast following the path of Jews shipwrecked there more than 2,000 years ago. The synagogue is two hours from Mumbai by private boat and bus on Burkat Global’s “3000 Years of Jewish India” tour starting in Mumbai, January 26, 2015 © Burkat Global, LLC

Coming upon a pastel pink synagogue with hot pink trim is only one of the surprises travelers will uncover on Burkat Global’s 3,000 Years of Jewish India tour.  In Southern India you’ll walk in the footsteps of the Jews who arrived as spice traders 3,000 years ago and those who settled there.2,000 years ago after the destruction of the second temple.

The journey begins in Mumbai (aka Bombay), India’s  most sophisticated city, where you’ll shop in ancient bazaars and visit colonial relics.  You’ll also tour breathtaking synagogues and historic sites,  take a private boat across Mumbai harbor  to visit age-old synagogues and oil pressers on the Konkan Coast, and take another private boat to Elephanta Island to explore  early Hindu caves.

A short flight takes the group to Cochin (aka Kochi) and the backwaters of Kerala, “the Venice of the East,”  for Ayurveda massage, yoga, or just relaxing. You’ll enjoy a Kathakali performance and traditional Kerala home-style meals.   There’s also a lazy afternoon on board a luxury houseboat, dining and taking pictures of villagers fishing, palm-fringed paddy fields and brightly-painted houses and churches.

In the city of Cochin you’ll have a cooking lesson and visit  a “secret” synagogue;  tour ancient Jew Town’s spice markets, antiques shops, Jewish cemetery and India’s oldest synagogue; view contemporary art on a special tour of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale; and see the Dutch Palace, Vasco da Gama’s church and more. In Muziris, where Jewish traders settled even before Cochin, you can work with archaeologists digging up the past, and swim in the Arabian Sea.  You’ll see recently-restored synagogues and an ancient Jewish cemetery in a town where Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Christians  have lived peacefully  for millennia.

There are about 5,000 Jews left in India, Howard Burkat tells me. “Because no one really knows the exact number, sometimes the number is thought to be as many as 7,500. There were substantially fewer than 100,000 before Israel became a state. Again, an exact and reliable number is very hard to come by. The vast majority of Indian Jews left the country to settle in Israel  in the years immediately after that country’s gaining independence in 1948.

The synagogues that remain are in many cases still used as places of worship. They were built in the 17th-19th centuries and most have been used by the community ever since. However, some are in excellent condition. Some need sprucing up. And some are in terrible shape waiting to be restored.

Recently the government of the southern state of Kerala, where the synagogues around Cochin are located, has  restored a number of synagogues beautifully, he says. “In fact Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who is the scholar in residence on our tour and travels with us, was heavily involved in a number of these restorations.”

Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem speaking at Bombay's 1884 Temple Knesset Eliyahoo, built by the Sassoon family, prominent Jewish philanthropists. On Burkat Global's "3000 Years of Jewish India" tour, Dr. Weil is the scholar in residence speaking daily on tour destinations. © Burkat Global, LLC
Dr. Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem speaking at Bombay’s 1884 Temple Knesset Eliyahoo, built by the Sassoon family, prominent Jewish philanthropists. On Burkat Global’s “3000 Years of Jewish India” tour, Dr. Weil is the scholar in residence speaking daily on tour destinations. © Burkat Global, LLC

In Mumbai on the holidays a few hundred people might attend services; out on the Konkan coast in the country outside Mumbai, fewer than a dozen people might worship. In still other synagogues, no one attends – they are museums maintained by government entities.

There is an old, beautiful synagogue, nearly 300 years old, hidden deep in the marketplace in Cochin. It is not visible from the street. You must be led to it through a large pet store and garden center whose Jewish owner will take you through his stores and into the synagogue to tell you its history.

“There are no regular services now, the last rabbi returned to Israel more than two years ago,  but on our tour, Sabbath worship will be arranged,” Burkat says., “Travelers sit under chandeliers ordered from Europe in the 1700s, and walk on tile floors from China, each one different from the next, that have been in place for hundreds of years.”

Dr. Shalva Weil of The Hebrew University, considered the world’s leading expert on Jewish India, will be the scholar in residence, traveling with and teaching the group.

Along the way there are delicious meals of Indian food—not hot unless you like it hot—and special Jewish Indian Shabbat dinners.  (Note that tour meals are not kosher, but are  vegetarian and fish.)   Hotels, all green award winners, include the legendary 5-star Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, Kerala’s lakeside Coconut Lagoon Resort, which Condé Nast Traveler has called one of the world’s best getaways, and the Brunton Boatyard, which combines 19th-century atmosphere with 21st-century luxury on an historic stretch of Cochin’s celebrated harbor.

There are also opportunities to meet local people. “In Mumbai and Cochin we arrange dinners with local Jewish community leaders. Our ground operator and guides are members of the Bene Israel community in Mumbai – they are leading our group into their own community.”

“3000 Years of Jewish India” makes three stops. In Mumbai and Cochin the group travels to numerous Jewish and non-Jewish sites. “Doctor Shalva Weil explains and lectures on the Jewish sites each day when we are visiting them. We also spend four days at the Coconut Lagoon resort, one of the most luxurious in India. This is a wonderful indulgence stop. There is a chance to learn about the literary heritage of Kerala and also see its famous Kathakali dances. There may be a lecture by Dr, Weill, but there is not Jewish heritage component here as there is in Cochin and Mumbai.

The tour is geared organized by the Burkat family and designed for families.

The small-group, land-only tour costs $7,995 per person, double occupancy, and includes almost everything: accommodation in luxury hotels, all intra-India transportation and transfers, daily breakfast, 21 lunches and dinners, bottled water,  sightseeing with entrance fees, the services of expert Indian Jewish guides, taxes and gratuities.  There is one departure: January 26, 2015; the tour is limited to 20 people.  International air fare is not included.

For more information about the “3,000 Years of Jewish India” tour, visit www.burkatglobal.com.  For reservations, call 914-231-9023.

 

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