WASHINGTON (JTA) – An Arizona family is donating $25 million to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum — the largest gift in the Washington museum’s history — to increase its educational programming.
The gift from the William Levine family of Phoenix will be used to expand and diversify its reach, especially to young people, according to the museum. The museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Education now will be called the Levine Institute for Holocaust Education.
Levine is an investor and real estate developer who founded Outdoor Systems, an outdoor advertising firm. He was appointed to the museum’s governing council by President George W. Bush in 2007.
“The Holocaust is receding in time and yet its lessons have never been more relevant and urgent than they are today as we witness rising anti-Semitism, hatred, and extremism,” museum director Sara Bloomfield said. “Complacency is not an option, and thanks to Bill Levine’s leadership and generosity, we can tackle the future with a very ambitious vision of reaching a global audience.”
Levine’s involvement with the museum began with his support of scholarly research.
“When I created the Ina Levine Scholar, my goal was to ensure that leading academics would take advantage of the museum’s incomparable archives to produce exciting new scholarship as the foundation for teaching new generations,” Levine said. “This new gift brings that vision full circle.
“I have distinct memories of when I first learned about the Holocaust as a young student at the Yeshivah of Flatbush during World War II. It was hard to believe what was happening to the Jews of Europe. Even today it seems unthinkable, and that’s why education is so important. When the survivors and eyewitnesses are gone, it will become even more important.”
The Levine family’s gift is part of the museum’s $540 million campaign being led by honorary chair Elie Wiesel.