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Julie Golding, the KFHEC’s director of education, said that one of the principle reasons the Holocaust was avoided for so long was that many communal leaders were Holocaust survivors. The subject of the Holocaust was too raw for them, so they focused instead on rebuilding the Jewish community.
The KFHEC was supposed to open last year. But according to Kleinman, the project was delayed because it kept growing and the design had to be modified.
The museum will be housed in a Boro Park synagogue, Agudas Yisroel Zichron Moshe. The KFHEC is adding one and a half floors to the synagogue to create a 25,000-square-foot space.
In addition to exhibition space, the KFHEC will also hold an archive, a research library, an education department, an interactive media center and a video testimony room that will focus on Orthodox Holocaust survivors.
Construction is yet to begin, but Kleinman said that bidders packages would be sent out before Passover, and work is expected to start in the coming months. He expects that the museum will open by the summer of 2015.
The KFHEC has hired some big names for its project. David Layman, who helped design the National September 11 Memorial Museum and the Illinois Holocaust Museum, in Skokie, is in charge of exhibition design. Berenbaum, who is in charge of the exhibition narrative, was previously project director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Berenbaum said the permanent exhibition would consist of three sections: What the Nazis did to all Jews; how Jews of all persuasions responded to the Holocaust; and, finally, the unique perspective of Orthodox Jewry.
The last element will include an overview of Orthodox life in Europe before, during and after the war, the rebirth of Orthodox life in the displaced persons camps of Europe, and the rebuilding of Orthodox life in America and Israel.
It will also include rabbinic responsa, or decisions, made by rabbis about when and how to follow religious law during and after the Holocaust.
Despite the focus on subjects of special interest to an Orthodox audience, the Kleinman Center’s leadership stressed that the museum would welcome all visitors.