Elizabeth—February 15 marked the unveiling of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, now an “institution within an institution,” at Bruriah High School. The annual exhibit is created, assembled, constructed and presented completely by the students of Bruriah High School, under the guidance of Joel Glazer, 35+ year veteran history teacher at the school and mentor of this special project for many years running. The curator this year is Ariel Ezra of Elizabeth, and this year’s docents are Miriam Brickman of West Orange, Jennifer Gerstle of Livingston, Chana Rosenbluth of Teaneck and Michal Winkler of Staten Island. The special projects were coordinated by Rachelli Benoff of Bergenfield. Mikayla Elk of East Brunswick is the project manager, tasked with raising funds to commemorate the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust, for the benefit of the many children’s charities in Israel.
The inaugural tour of the museum was joined by JEC Dean Rav Elazar Mayer Teitz, and Ed Mosberg, a concentration camp survivor. Throughout the tour, as the docents each explained individual exhibits, Mosberg would interject episodes from his personal experience that validated or elucidated the teaching point of the exhibit. He wears his original camp concentration number protected inside a bracelet, and his contributions provided a poignant perspective of what it was really like to live through the horrific existence in a concentration camp. Rav Teitz added commentary on the political, public and governmental responses in the US and around the world.
The originality and ingenuity of the exhibits are simply amazing. While the students were careful to remain true to accurate information, they also went to great lengths to employ highly creative and compelling displays that portray the stark and grim realities of the Holocaust era and experience. A special and impressive feature of this year’s museum is due to the participation of the pre-engineering students who created and constructed electronic displays and exhibits with moving parts or interactive attributes. For example, if you touch the barbed wire in the exhibit, you are surprised by the gentle but unexpected little buzz…a sort of shocking reminder of the reality of concentration camp life. There are also quietly compelling displays, such as the butterfly exhibit. The simplicity and elegance of this display, lifted by the story behind it and related eloquently by one of the docents, describes who and what the butterflies represent.
Another, not so quietly compelling, display is the book-page origami of the Star of David, sculpted into and from the pages of the book “Mein Kampf.” It is strange to stand in front of this sculpture and contemplate the antagonistic significance of what you are witnessing.
Maintaining the tradition of the Bruriah Holocaust Memorial Museum, it is a journey with a beginning and a destination, not really an end but, instead, “A light at the end of the tunnel.” The museum culminates in “the land of Israel,” whose establishment was the ultimate good emanating from the horrors and injustice of the Holocaust. Depicted by sandy and rocky shores and water, Israel serves as the hope and safe haven for our nation. Trailed by this display is the appeal to commemorate the 1.5 children who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
The students of Bruriah ask everyone to join them in their quest to raise 1.5 million pennies to be donated to various worthy charities for children in Israel. They invite you to add your contribution by contacting the school to find out how you can make a difference to Israel’s children, while remembering and honoring those who never had a chance to grow up. Contact them at http://bruriah.thejec.org/index.php/contact/contact-us.