Friday, June 17, 2011

Museum of Jewish Heritage: 36 Battery Place

There are at least two ways to experience the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  You can see the three floors of exhibition space and phenomenal views of the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (the last Public Works commission overseen by Robert Moses) in about an hour breezing through and stopping at points that catch your interest (perhaps using a rented audio tour narrated by Meryl Streep and Itzak Perlman).

OR you can take the once-weekly guided tour led by "Sammy" (a Holocaust survivor who was in a labor camp for four years as a toddler) in a little over two hours in which he leads an interactive tour talking about Jews in the past (see photo at right of a 1920s wedding of American Jews), during the Holocaust, and today.

If you have the time and the inclination, I would highly recommend the tour with Sammy.  He not shares his philosophies about forgiveness (for the world that stood by while Nazi Germany killed over 55 million people and for himself for surviving medical experiments during the Holocaust when others didn't), but also stories about his father, mother, great uncle twice removed....  Well, you get the picture.

You will not only get a history lesson about the looting and massacre of kristallnacht, the 10,000 orphans taken in by Britain, the S.S. St. Louis with 937 Jewish refugees rejected by Cuba and the United States, and oh so much more.  No matter what your politics about the State of Israel, this is a great museum to visit.  Plus, they've got a nice cafe with views of Andy Goldsworthy's contemplation garden where trees grow out of seemingly inhospitable boulders (see photo at left), Woody Allen film festivals, and other events (check out their website at Jewish Heritage Info).

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