Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Photo EssayPhotos: In the middle of Times Square, a Holocaust cattle car

A striking new Holocaust exhibit hopes to raise awareness for antisemitism and all kinds of hatred

In Times Square, below bright, high-definition screens advertising Coca-Cola and T-Mobile, sits a 27-foot wooden replica cattle car similar to those used to shuttle millions of Jews and others to concentration camps.

“Times Square is iconic. This is the crossroads of the world. So if your goal is to increase awareness, this is the place you want to be,” said Todd Cohn, executive director of Southern NCSY, a chapter of the national Jewish youth organization founded by the Orthodox Union.

The traveling cattle car, which contains a video exhibit on the horrors of the Holocaust, is part of Southern NCSY’s Hate Ends Now tour, which aims to combat antisemitism and all forms of hate. In a little over a year, the cattle car has been to five states, 65 schools, and been seen by at least 60,000 people. To travel between campuses and venues, it gets hitched to a Ford 250 pick-up truck.

After the cattle car’s sliding door is closed, viewers are held in near-darkness, the slats of the walls illuminated only by projected visuals filmed and edited by Sagi Kahane-Rapoport, a Canadian-American filmmaker who originated the idea for the exhibit together with Jordana Lebowitz, executive director of ShadowLight, a Holocaust education organization.

For the exhibit, Kahane-Rapoport interviewed two Holocaust survivors, Hedy Bohm and Nate Leipcinger, and made a short film reenacting the experiences they related in their testimonies. Through a technique called projection mapping, a series of projectors ensure the walls of the cattle car are covered in one seamless, moving image.

For those who experienced it in Times Square, the effect was profound. “Seeing this makes me remember how many people didn’t get to walk out of that cattle car,” said Akiva Daitchman, who came to see the exhibit after seeing posts about it on social media. “And we just walked out.”

 

1 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman

“We wanted to make something tangible,” said Todd Cohn, the executive director of Southern NCSY, that could help students “understand what transpired with our ancestors, our grandparents, with our great-grandparents.”

2 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman

Amid the hustle and bustle of Times Square, Southern NCSY’s traveling cattle car exhibit was graced by the presence of The Naked Cowboy. He asked what the car was for, but became distracted before he could get an answer.

3 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman

Students and passersby explored the exhibit throughout the morning and afternoon. Standing beside the cattle car, a student from a local performing arts school said she had been ostracized at school for being Jewish.

4 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman/Forward

A series of images projected onto the walls of the cattle car, a replica that Jordana Lebowitz, the exhibit’s co-creator, found through a Toronto prop company. Visitors stand in the cattle car for the entire 20-minute film.

5 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman

William Rodriguez was hired to provide security for the exhibit. He had been there since 5 a.m. and experienced the exhibit for himself in the afternoon. “Who would think that that many people could be murdered by a thought,” he wondered afterwards.

“We shouldn’t be hating each other, no matter what,” Rodriguez said. “And I believe that 100%. I don’t hate nobody. We’re all here on earth for a reason, no matter what.”

6 / 6

Photo by Matthew Litman

The exhibit’s visuals were filmed and edited by Canadian-American filmmaker Sagi Kahane-Rapport. He said the visual aspects of the exhibit, which involved interviewing two Holocaust survivors, took two years to complete.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.