Telling Story of Holocaust's Horrors Through Ultra-Orthodox Eyes

Brooklyn Museum Plans To Offer Neglected Shoah Perspective

yad vashem

By Paul Berger

Published April 09, 2014, issue of April 18, 2014.
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Cindy Darrison, a former Democratic fundraiser and now the KFHEC’s vice president of institutional advancement, said, “This is inclusive of the Orthodox community, not exclusive to the Orthodox Jewish community.”

Creating a welcoming environment for visitors on the more conservative end of the Orthodox spectrum means making some sacrifices. A handout from the museum stresses that digital content and online resources will be “subject to appropriate filtering and packaging.”

Friedmann said there are “not going to be any displays people might find offensive.”

Rabbi Dovid Reidel, the KFHEC’s director of research and archives division, said museum staff are still grappling with how to portray women in the Holocaust without upsetting religious sensitivities.

“The last thing we want to do is suggest there weren’t women in the Holocaust,” Reidel said.

One recent day at KFHEC’s temporary office space in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn, Reidel showed off several examples of artifacts the museum will display. One was a dark-brown suitcase, once owned by Edith Horovitz, a teenage girl from Hungary who was sent to the Budapest ghetto in 1944.

Reidel pulled out a photograph of Horovitz, who looked strikingly secular. She wore long, braided hair and a dark dress decorated close to the neckline with flowers. Reidel said Horovitz “was a religious Hungarian Jew, with the emphasis on Hungarian.”

Horovitz used precious space inside the small suitcase she took into the ghetto to store a challah cover. “This is a story of someone who is not Hasidish,” Reidel said, “but it was important for her to bring the challah cover.” Reidel turned to an album put together by Kathe Judith Goldbart, an Orthodox girl who escaped from Berlin to Shanghai in 1939, when she was 10 years old. Among the scenes in the album are photographs of Goldbart, dressed in the fashion of the day, relaxing with her family.

Asked how the museum could depict both women’s stories without offending ultra-Orthodox men, Reidel said that on days when ultra-Orthodox school groups visit the museum, they might have to make sure no images of the women are on display.

The KFHEC has organized a special event showcasing Goldbart’s Holocaust story, which will be held at Kol Yaakov Hall, in Brooklyn, on May 14.

The event will be for women only.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter, @pdberger


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