The full name of the Museum of Jewish Heritage includes the description A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Beautifully situated on the placid banks of New York Harbor with an appropriate view of the Statue of Liberty, the museum presents artifacts from the Jewish experience during the 19th and 20th centuries, with particular emphasis on the Holocaust and the ongoing impacts of anti-Semitism around the world. The museum memorializes the millions of victims and survivors of the Holocaust by celebrating the communities lost, keeping in memory the many individuals who died, educating visitors about the damning history of the rise of extremism, and remaining vigilant towards future threats of systematic prejudice and genocide.
For the dead and the living, we must bear witness
What You Will See
The permanent collection looks at the last 150 years of the Jewish experience. It begins by revisiting the state of the Jewish world at the turn of the twentieth century. It proceeds to examine in great detail The War Against the Jews, chronicling the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the horrors visited upon Jewish communities and individuals during the Holocaust. Several short documentary films and interviews accompany artifacts, photographs, and testimonials in revisiting the death and destruction inflicted upon European Jews. The collection ends on a hopeful note, looking at the recovery and renewal of Jewish communities, including the efforts to bring justice to those responsible for the massacre and the ongoing struggle to educate the world about the dangers of the prejudice ideologies that led to genocide. Rotating exhibits bring focus to particular aspects of the Jewish experience during the past century.
Why You Should Go
New York City is currently home to more Jewish people than any other city in the world, largely as a result of the exact type of European and Russian anti-Semitism explored in the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Between the years of 1881 and 1945, over two million Jews immigrated to the United States, with more than half of them ending up in the metropolitan area. These new New Yorkers came from the families and communities decimated by the Holocaust and the city would be incomplete without a major memorial to the victims. Like the nearby September 11th Museum, African Burial Ground, and Museum of the American Indian, this is a somber place to remember tragic events. But it is a necessary visit. The movements and beliefs that lead to the extermination of entire populations remain alive and active. Learning what this museum teaches is a critical step to preventing it from happening again.
Over the next seven years, this exhibition of artifacts from the Holocaust's most infamous extermination camp will travel to 14 cities in Europe and North America. Appropriately, during its time in New York, the Museum of Jewish Heritage will play host to this timely and sobering exhibition. With objects borrowed from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel's Yad Vashem, this exhibition demonstrates that we are a few short decades removed from the horrors of Auschwitz.
The individual impact of the Holocaust is often lost in the magnitude of the tragedy. The numbers and statistics do not capture the daily, personal horrors of Nazi persecution. This exhibit brings the individual impact to the forefront, celebrating objects treasured by individuals who suffered during the Holocaust. From homemade greeting cards written in the Ghetto to Torah scrolls hidden from destruction, the stories of individuals are made real through their treasures.
Artifacts, photography, and memoirs are the primary media through which contemporary audiences experience the Holocaust. This exhibit takes a closer look at another testimonial of the horrors of the holocaust: art produced by victims of Nazi atrocities. Whether sketches produced while in hiding, pastels of life and conditions in a Ghetto, or cartoons drawn from daily life, artists managed to capture unique views of their own experiences and those of their communities.