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New Museum Teaches Children About Young Holocaust Victims

A Holocaust museum has opened here with two special groups in mind: the 1.5 million Jewish children who died in the Shoah and the children of today who will visit the museum.

Yad Layeled, the Children’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, opened last week at Kibbutz Lohamei HaGeta’ot in northern Israel. THe Kibbutz was founded by a group of resistance fighters from various ghettos in Poland.

This unique museum, dedicated to the young victims of the Nazis, aims to convey the horrors suffered by the children of the Holocaust to today’s children, without leaving them traumatized or alienated.

Multimedia and 3-D exhibits designed for children are used to present the story through the eyes and voices of the child victims of the Holocaust.

Five years in the making, the annex to the Beit Lohamei HaGeta’ot — the Museum of Holocaust and Resistance — was planned by architect Ram Karmi and designed by Ori Abramson and Ronit Lombrozo.

Karmi, who also designed the new Supreme Court building in Jerusalem, designed this museum as a structure with a downward spiral motion. This was done to hold the children’s interest by suggesting that more than what is revealed exists and to underscore the view that the Holocaust can never be fully comprehended.

Visitors enter the museum through the Commemoration Hall, which contains 16 stained-glass windows based on children’s drawings from the Theresienstadt ghetto. The windows were created by British artist Halter, a concentration camp survivor, and his Israeli Son, Ardyn Halter.

One window is set into the ceiling of the hall, and depicts the symbol of Yad Layeled — the sun, a flower and a butterfly. The three-part symbol is based on a statement of Pavel Friedman, a child of Theresienstadt who said, “Butterflies don’t live here, in a the ghetto.”

The spiral offers displays and multimedia exhibits that focus on each station of the route of the Holocaust children. They start with the onset of anti- Semitic restrictions and the outbreak of war, and proceed with attempts to flee, ghetto life and deportation.

Along the way, recorded voices read from the diaries and letters of children who perished. ..TX.,-Video screens feature testimonies from adult child survivors, helping young visitors relate to the “Holocaust child” locked in the memories of relatives and acquaintances.

At the end of the route, the children are invited to participate in visual arts, music, drama and writing workshops. These activities are designed to help the young visitors explore and digest the experience they have just gone through, the prepare them for their return to the outside world.

The $4 million museum evolved from the Zivia and Antek Zuckerman Study Center at the Museum of Holocaust and Resistance. The Jewish Agency Education Fund contributed $1.3 million. Other donations came from various agencies and individuals. Many of the personal donations were made in memory of perished children, whose names are commemorated on a wall in Yad Layeled.

The museum was inaugurated in an evening ceremony at the site, which overlooks a broad expanse of the Galilee.

Among those attending the ceremony were Knesset Speaker Shevach Weiss and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, themselves children of the Holocaust, as well as Knesset member Avraham Burg, who is also acting chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency for Israel.

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